Cavan ‘blessed’ with the quality of players

CADBURY'S ALL-IRELAND U21FC SEMI-FINAL:

Cavan ‘blessed’ with the quality of players

Failure thus far to add an All-Ireland crown to that haul, Joe McCarthy doesn’t care.

Far from being dismissive of Cavan’s recent achievements at U21 level, the selector eyes the current campaign as a journey removed from previous sojourns.

Perhaps, but there is a growing demand in the Breffni County to finally annex the Clarke Cup and even considering the strength of tomorrow’s opposition, general consensus is that Cavan’s time is now, a better opportunity or, indeed, a more talented batch of players will not again materialise.

Said expectation is carried by the fact that the last side to necklace four Ulster U21 titles was Tyrone (2000-2003), a group who would deliver a multitude of riches in the ensuing years.

Peter Reilly’s side were edged out by the minimum at the penultimate hurdle 12 months ago, McCarthy, however, says atonement is not their agenda heading to O’Moore Park.

“We are just seeing where this journey can take us,” he surmised. “When we won Ulster we celebrated winning Ulster not doing the four-in-a-row.

“The U21 is a funny one. Every year is different. At the start of every season you have your trials, you are starting from scratch. It is a brand new journey and you don’t care what happened in the previous years because it is irrelevant.

“Of our panel of 37, there are 12 from previous campaigns. They don’t care what happened last year or the year before.”

Thirty seven, on the surface, would appear to be an unnecessarily large sized panel, but McCarthy stresses the immense competition for places, 23 players tasting action during their Ulster run.

“When you look at what we have on the bench, the lads who can’t make it and even there are five or six lads who couldn’t make the 37 that are excellent footballers.

“We are just blessed with the quality of the Cavan footballer at the moment. When we started looking at players last October, there were two or three players who you would have said are shoe-ins for starting positions. Then you see the quality we have at our disposal. It is a great problem to have.

“Without naming names there are a couple of defenders that are not making it and they can count themselves hugely unlucky. Those with shirts on their back know how hard they have to work to protect their place. They know they have to be on their toes because there is an excellent replacement ready to step in. That just keeps everyone keen.”

As for today’s opposition? McCarthy seeks to paint the picture of an indestructible Dublin force, but lest we not forget the defeat inflicted by Longford last year.

“There is a lot of them with senior experience. There are three or four of them with All-Ireland medals. Jack McCaffrey was young footballer of the year, then factor in Paul Mannion, Davy Byrne, Eric Lowndes and Cormac Costello. There are lads who play at inter-county for 20 years and never win an All-ireland medal so we know what we are facing.

“They have extraordinary pedigree.”

DUBLIN: L Molloy; R McGowan, D Byrne, R McDaid; E Lowndes, J Small, J McCaffrey’; P O’Higgins, S Cunningham; N Scully, S Carthy, P Mannion; C McHugh, M Deegan, C Costello.

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