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Mickey Graham: 'Not one person believed we could do it bar the players'

Cavan produced the second shock of the day by beating Donegal in the Ulster final.

Cavan celebrate after the game.
Cavan celebrate after the game.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CAVAN BOSS MICKEY Graham hailed the belief of his squad after leading them to a stunning Ulster final success against Donegal. 

Declan Bonner’s side were unbackable 1/14 favourites heading into the game and discussions had already started around an expected All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Dublin.

“I don’t think anybody believed it was going to be bridged today bar the players themselves,” the victorious manager told RTÉ Sport.

“We were wrote off coming into it, lets be honest about it, in all quarters. Not one person believed we could do it bar the players themselves. Our own supporters got behind us like they always do, but did they believe we could do it? I don’t know. But they’ll believe now, let me tell you.”

It was their sixth weekend of action in succession and Cavan had already produced comeback wins over Monaghan and Down, in addition to a defeat of Antrim, to reach the provincial final.

Asked where this incredible run of form has come from, Graham said:

“Just the collective group of players that have come together and put their bodisse on the line for each other. Everytime we go onto the field all we ask of them is to give their best. That’s what they’ve done.

“To play six weeks in-a-row to win an Ulster title, that’s an achievement in itself. To get this far after all the turbulence we had along the way and then to top it off with your best performance of the year. What can you say about them lads? I’m just so proud of them.

“We said as a management team coming into the home straight that if we were in the game with 15 minutes to go we were going to be bang there because we’ve finished games strongly all year and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

“We had a couple of goal chances that could have put a bit of daylight between the teams] but it doesn’t matter, the scoreline, as long as the Anglo-Celt Cup is coming back home to Cavan.”

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Graham was wearing his boots the last time Cavan lifted the Anglo-Celt Cup, in 1997, and he was thrilled for the younger generations they could witness the victory.

“We know the beast that lies in Dublin but to be honest we’re not even thinking about them at this point in time.

“This is a long time in the waiting to Cavan people, we’ve suffered for so long and I’m just delighted for the kids at home, my own children, all the lads’ children that they get to see Cavan win an Ulster championship.

“And a lot of people have never seen that. I’m just delighted for all the people at home who can’t be here today that we’ve brightened up their winter and year with everything that’s going on.”

Both Graham and goalkeeper Raymond Galligan became emotional in talking about the significance of this win for a county that has been hit hard by Covid-19 in recent times.

“Words can’t describe it,” said Graham as he became emotional during an interview with BBC Sport Northern Ireland. 

“Huge. That’s all I can say,” he added before shedding a tear as he walked away.

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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