'Sometimes change is good' - Mickey Graham ponders Cavan future

Cavan suffered a Tailteann Cup final defeat to Westmeath on Saturday.

Cavan manager Mickey Graham during the game.
Cavan manager Mickey Graham during the game.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

MICKEY GRAHAM WILL take some time before making a decision on his future as Cavan manager. 

Graham’s side lost to Westmeath in Saturday’s Tailteann Cup drawing the curtain on his fourth season in charge. During his tenure he led the county to a famous Ulster title victory in 2020 and their Division 4 success earlier this year.

Cavan looked on the verge of adding the inaugural Tailteann Cup to his haul when they led by two points with 13 minutes remaining, until Westmeath launched a late rally to take the title. 

“I’m four years here and I’ll definitely have to assess the situation but I’ll not make any decision just right now because I said to the boys, we’ve a few lads there too who have been around a long time and I told them not to make any decisions,” he said.

“This isn’t the time, let the dust settle. Go on a holiday and just recharge the batteries. Sometimes change is good and I’ll have to sit down and talk to the players, maybe in a couple of weeks’ time and see what their thought process is.”

Having previously led Longford’s Mullinalaghta to a famous Leinster success, Graham admitted the time demands involved at this level was significant.

“The inter-county management game is a tough gig.  It’s 24/7, seven days a week and it does take its toll on you, mentally more so than anything else. You try to do your best for Cavan football as a Cavan man, sometimes it doesn’t happen and sometimes it does.

“It’s been an unbelievable journey for me the last four years. To say it was a rollercoaster would be an understatement but it was always a privilege. 

“It was always a lifetime ambition for me not just to represent Cavan as a player but to manage them as well and I couldn’t be more privileged and honoured to have done that.”

It was a difficult dressing room to return to, having given themselves great opportunity to win the game.

“Devastated. They really embraced this competition. After the Donegal game, they really went after this, they wanted to finish the year on a high but look it, they’re a resilient bunch of lads.

“As I said to them there, in Cavan we’ve experienced more bad days than good days, that’s our fourth final in four years, won two lost two. It’s days like this that spur you on for bigger and better things.”

He accepted that the red card to Thomas Galligan in the 58th minute had a big say on the outcome. Westmeath scored 1-3 without reply after that point as they made full use of the extra man.

“Thomas (Galligan) is a huge player for us,  when you want someone to step up and fetch a ball, he’s the man to do it. It did probably shake us for a while but I thought we did enough to stay in it.

“I thought Thomas was coming for a big hit, he probably just mistimed it more than anything else. I don’t think there was anything malicious there, I thought it was just mistimed but obviously Barry had other ideas so I can’t make a judgement on it until I see it myself and I’ll know better.

“Their goal, we would would have been disappointed. I thought we had enough bodies there to stop him and we didn’t and that was the decisive score.”

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Overall Graham feels the Tailteann Cup was a success and it will only get stronger in the future.

“I thought it was an unbelievable atmosphere there. It was electric and that supporters got behind it and bought into it. It’s really re-invigorated the young people in Cavan and got them wearing jerseys and supporting Cavan.

“I think this competition will probably get harder to win as the years go along. I think a lot of teams will be sitting at home today watching that spectacle and thinking about the atmosphere and the occasion and the football.

“Teams will embrace this moving forward, especially if they don’t make the last 16 because it’s a realistic chance of winning silverware.”

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