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Dublin: 0°C Friday 22 January 2021
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Cavan hope favourites tag will 'weigh heavy' on Dublin like it did for Donegal

Thomas Galligan reflects on Cavan’s ‘shock’ Ulster final win and the upcoming tie against the All-Ireland champions.

Thomas Galligan with his PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Month for November award.
Thomas Galligan with his PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Month for November award.
Image: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

CAVAN STAR THOMAS Galligan says his side arrive into Saturday’s All-Ireland football semi-final against Dublin with nothing to lose and they’re hoping to cause another upset.

The Breffni men delivered the Ulster crown with a sensational victory over Donegal, one which Galligan admits hasn’t yet sunk in. 

“I think everyone was just in shock,” he says of the scenes at full-time in the Athletic Grounds.

“We had all visualised what we were going to do to win, what needed to be done to get over the line but I don’t think anybody thought of that final whistle moment, like ‘What do we do now?’

“Because nobody gave us a chance. It was just great to win with all of the lads that you’ve trained all year with, who have put serious effort in over lockdown.

“People training on their own, boys getting sick – to be able to turn around at the end of the year and say I’ve an Ulster medal at the end of it, it made it all worthwhile. I don’t think it will sink in for a couple of months. It’s a bit surreal at the moment.”

The underdogs tag suited Cavan during their run to the Anglo-Celt Cup and six-in-a-row chasing Dublin are unbackable 1/50 favourites heading into Saturday’s game.

“Nobody expected us to get here,” reflects Galligan, who was named as the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for November.

“There’s no pressure on us, we’re going out and playing football. The favourites tag probably weighed heavy on Donegal so hopefully it’ll do the same to Dublin. 

“I suppose it is a little bit daunting but it’s also exciting to be playing the best team in the country. You’ll really know where you’re at after you play them. It might be a bit daunting or whatever but I think more people will be excited to get playing.

“If you had to ask people at the start of the year that Cavan were going to be in an All-Ireland semi-final, you would have got good odds. So I think we’ll enjoy it moreso than be afraid of it.”

With the country still in a Level 5 lockdown when the Ulster final was played, Galligan admits the muted celebrations probably helped them quickly turn their attention to Dublin.

“It probably helps a little bit that the pubs weren’t open, but we still celebrated with the people who mattered the most to us. We stayed together as a unit and celebrated with family. 

Of the feeling of elation around the county over the past week, he said: “I probably haven’t met enough people yet to really get a sense of it. But I’m sure it has really lifted spirits.”

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“I got messages after the Monaghan game about how things were bad and we were after getting relegated and it was all doom and gloom, but after we beat Monaghan it just lifted everyone.

“There’s been lots of messages and you meet people in shops and they are just so proud of what we have done and how it has brightened their days and they can’t wait for (the game) because it is getting them through the week. It’s nice to hear that, because it kind of makes it all worthwhile.”

dara-mcveety Dara McVeety missed out on the Ulster final success. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

While Killian Clarke shelved plans to go travelling due to Covid-19, long-serving team-mates Conor Moynagh (New Zealand) and Dara McVeety (Australia) both missed out on the Ulster success.

“Obviously they were texting me all week saying best of luck, and after the game saying congratulations and that it was unbelievable and all that goes with it,” he says of Moynagh and McVeety.

“But I’m sure they are a little bit disappointed, but they are the lads that brought this group on. They should be given a lot of credit for winning, even though they weren’t involved.

“They brought Ulster U21 medals to Cavan and were key players in that and they have been key players for Cavan for the last six or seven years and they’ve been stalwarts. So I don’t think they owe Cavan anything more.

“Obviously they’ll be disappointed they weren’t involved, but it just worked out for it to be a bad year for them to miss. But they are enjoying themselves wherever they are in Australia and New Zealand. You’ll probably see them in a Cavan jersey again.”

Of Clarke he adds: “Killian came back, he was probably in lockdown and all that. Wanted to go travelling. But no travelling was allowed. He’s one of the best footballers in Cavan so he always had something to offer to us.

“As soon as he said he was on for coming back in, he put in the grind, put in the effort, and showed through the whole championship that he is one of Cavan’s best players.”

Subscribe to The42′s new member-led GAA Championship show with Marc Ó Sé and Shane Dowling. 

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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