'If we lose to Tyrone, it's probably one of the worst years in Cavan football history'

Pádraig Faulkner says there is added pressure on his side to get a result after suffering league relegation for the third time.

Cavan defender Pádraig Faulkner.
Cavan defender Pádraig Faulkner.
Image: Eóin Noonan/SPORTSFILE

CAVAN DEFENDER PÁDRAIG Faulkner says that defeat to Tyrone in their Ulster SFC quarter-final would signify “one of the worst years” in the county’s GAA history.

Mickey Graham’s side, who emerged as unlikely winners of the Ulster championship last year, have struggled to maintain their form in 2021.

They will go into Saturday’s clash after suffering a third successive league relegation, which leaves them facing into Division 4 football next year. A 1-19 to 1-13 result against Longford is their only win of the season so far, with their demotion to the bottom tier being confirmed after succumbing to Wicklow last month.

“We were quite disappointed with our league campaign as much as last year,” says Faulkner, who also adds that the players are yet to receive their Ulster medals. 

He notes that perhaps there may be a lack of closure that comes with having no event to park the 2020 season, but he stresses that their intention was always to focus on 2021.

“I know we didn’t take the form we took from the 2020 championship into 2021 but I suppose it was mostly our own undoing.

“That’s behind us and we’re looking towards next year. Possibly, there were a few factors at play. The lack of football that was played over lockdown probably didn’t stand to us. I know everyone was in that situation. And early injuries started hurting us throughout the year but look we’ll just have to park it and turn our main focus to championship.

“That’s exactly what we did last year and we got our rewards.”

In addition to suffering relegation to Division 4, Cavan will also be consigned to the second-tier Tailteann Cup unless they can reach the Ulster final this year.

The competition, which is designed for Division 3 and Division 4 counties, was shelved again this year due to the pandemic. Faulkner has “mixed” feelings about the tournament and feels that every county is more motivated to compete for Sam Maguire honours.

And with their Ulster crown also on the line at the weekend, there is a heightened sense of pressure on Cavan to recover after an unsettled run of results. 

“I think I’m in my sixth or seventh year playing with Cavan and never so much as won a medal in league or championship,” says the All-Star defender.

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“I think for so long it was a thing to tick off the list. And I don’t know whether we took our foot off the pedal but things just haven’t been clicking our league campaign as well as I’d hoped. I think psychologically it’s just that it’s all built up to win that and maybe the foot has gone off the pedal a bit from last year.

“But, hopefully we’re back on track now.”

AIB, proud sponsors of both club and county, today celebrated the return of the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship this summer. Pádraig Faulkner was on hand for the launch.

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