We have live score commentary as Cavan take on Kerry in the 3rd of this weekends quarter finals when they meet in Croke Park on Sunday at 2 o’clock.
What an extraordinary year it has been for the Breffni men and their supporters. They have played no less than six games in this year’s championship thus far, and will without doubt meet their toughest opposition in headquarters this Sunday. All the talk in the Breffni County is football related with the quest for tickets in August an irregular occurrence. Terry Hyland’s team progress, proving that the underage structure might just be coming to fruition – earlier then expected. Many pundits have labelled this Cavan team as the story of the championship and they certainly have re-written the script. The latest county rankings putting the Breffni men up in tenth place.
Kerry on the other hand has slipped under the radar this year and without doubt to Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s delight. They have not tasted championship action in six weeks with the only credible opposition they have met so far been Cork in the Munster Final. They have made two changes to the team to start on Sunday with Eamonn Fitzmaurice rewarding Kieran Donaghys patience with a starting berth in the full forward line. Fionn Fitzgerald will also come into the side replacing Mark Griffin who is still suffering from a hamstring injury.
Cavan ran out nine point winners last weekend in Croke Park, but the final score line seemed to flatter to deceive. They were lack lustre, flat, and even more negative with their style of play than usual. This was summed up by a Ronan Flanagan free kick which travelled at least 50 metres back to Alan O’Meara in the Cavan goal – a free kick which was met with a chorus of boo’s from the Cavan supporters themselves.
Much of their play seemed to be too lateral, when direct running at London in the first few minutes was penetrating the exiles defence. They lost confidence as the game went on and when former Cavan man Lorcan Mulvey levelled matters heading for half time, the Cavan sideline were becoming a little itchy. Their performance against Derry was full of heart, skill and a never say die attitude and this is what they will need to bring to the table on Sunday. Martin Dunne might be top scorer in the championship but in truth, he again looked ominous in the full forward line and his slight build will need lots of space, something that Kerry don’t afford to their opponents. They upped the ante in the second half and did close out the game impressively albeit against a tiring London outfit.
However, it is thought that the Cavan team had a hard week in training leading up to the game, many fans hoping this will have been the reason behind a stale performance.
It is harder to assess the form of the Munster Champions, other then the fact that they are just that. Throughout the championship this year, I have yet to witness a more rounded first half of football which combined skill, endeavour and tactical clout as was the opening thirty-five minutes in that Munster Final. Many pundits later applauding it as the perfect first half performance.
Nonetheless, the cliché of a game of two halves cliché has followed them round since then, they let a Cork team who made a couple of substitutions back into the game, and if Conor Counihan had started the correct starting fifteen, the Kingdom could well have been in trouble. Many up in Cavan will hope that lack of championship games and momentum for the Kerry side will serve to give Cavan an extra edge in the opening minutes, yet with competition for places holding former player of the year Donaghy on the bench up until this weekend, one would assume that in house training sessions will have more than sufficed.
Dual of the Game
Killian Clarke has been in fine form for the Breffni Country and had another steady performance in the full back line for Cavan last weekend. He seemed comfortable under high ball and won’t be fazed at the prospect of marking the Gooch Cooper, having marked Eoin Bradley two weeks previous in Derry. This will be though his toughest assignment and one worth watching.
Kerry have too much class and football ability to cope with anything that Cavan might throw at them come Sunday. While the run around in Croke Park last week will serve to quell the anxieties of the surroundings of head office, Kerry will represent a step up in opposition that this Cavan team have not met this year. In Anthony Maher and Johnny Buckley, they have a midfield pairing who will make sure of a decent supply of ball into the Kerry full forward line. Kerry last beat Cavan in Croke Park in 1997 and Kerry triumphed by 7 points, expect the same difference come Sunday.