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Cavan's Padraig Faulkner and Killian Clarke celebrate their monumental upset of Donegal in the Ulster final.
Cavan's Padraig Faulkner and Killian Clarke celebrate their monumental upset of Donegal in the Ulster final.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

‘I still can’t believe it, it’s like waking up from a dream. That’s all we wanted when we were younger’

Listening to Tipp’s Munster final win on the way to Armagh gave Padraig Faulkner extra faith in a potential Cavan upset.
Nov 23rd 2020, 7:00 AM 6,498 1

ON THE WAY up the road from Kingscourt to Armagh City, Cavan’s Padraig Faulkner was alone with his thoughts.

Until he flicked on the radio, that is, and caught the frantic soundings of what was happening in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, where Tipperary were getting busy winning their first Munster title in 85 years, on the centenary weekend of Bloody Sunday.

“I was listening to it on the radio on the way up, so I did know about it and it does give you faith,” he smiled to reporters at the end of an Ulster final that nobody saw coming.

“When Cork beat Kerry, Kerry were the biggest monsters meant to put it up to Dublin, and Cork went and done it.

“It’s no good when you don’t back it up with a title but Tipperary beating them today, it does give you the incentive. If they can do it, anyone can do it.”

Everything is different in 2020, but the one thing thankfully that is in no way diminished is the demeanour of those young men who end up as Ulster champions. Sitting in his kit, in an almost empty stadium, in a dark stadium in Armagh rather than surrounded by thousands of success-starved Cavan fans is almost too surreal to take in.

But he couldn’t care less for the fluffy stuff.

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padraig-faulkner-with-eoghan-ban-gallagher Faulkner challenges Eoghan Bán Gallagher of Donegal. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I still can’t believe it — it’s like waking up from a dream. It’s what you dreamed about when you were younger – that’s all we wanted when we were younger,” he says.

“It was to lift the Ulster title and I’m stuck for words. It’s strange not being in Clones, but we had a taste of this pitch last week against Down and I think the extra bit of practice might have stood to us. It’s probably smaller than Clones, which would have suited us.

“Donegal’s attacking threat; they are strong runners and they like to spread the pitch wide and I think that pitch suited us down to the ground.”

Faulkner also revealed that even in suffering relegation, their faith never wavered.

I had this conversation with my father about being relegated. In those two games that we played against Kildare and Roscommon we actually played well even though we lost. It was just our short efficiency in front of goal letting us down in every game. Even in challenge matches we were the same.

“It was something to work on for four consecutive weeks and I thought we had been improving every week. We had been getting shots away, just not in the right area of the pitch. We took them today in the right areas.”

Not least, the goal on 71 minutes. It was the ultimate checkmate, a score that put four into the margin with less than three minutes to rescue themselves, with an attack that had malfunctioned bar the period of Cavan’s first black card.

“That was the deadener, but it never felt lost,” said Faulkner.

It never felt that we were losing it, I always felt we were in control. Our big players were standing up, there was no little thing spurring us on and it was just everyone putting in a shift.

“I felt the time Marty [Reilly] went through on goal, he was trying to put the game to bed and probably should have clipped it over and that would have put us two up. We still plugged through and got the goal, and that was the deadener for Donegal.”

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Declan Bogue

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