ELEVEN years on from the last time he supervised a team competing in a clash in Páirc Ui Chaoimh, Tommy Carr is preparing for a daunting experience as he returns to the Cork venue next Saturday afternoon.
Back in 1999, Carr brought his Dublin charges south for a National Football League final and found themselves overturned by the home side by 0-12 to 1-7. The action has shifted from league to championship now with the Cavan team that is under Carr’s tutelage preparing for a qualifier tie against last year’s All-Ireland finalists. After their rousing success over Wicklow a fortnight ago, Carr is adamant that Cavan have been pitched into the hardest draw possible on Saturday.
“First of all it’s a tough draw to be facing Cork and second of all it’s tough to have to travel on top of that. We have to be honest that of all the teams to be drawn out, Cork would’ve been the worst team for anyone to get. They are one of the top two teams in the country. I tipped them to win last year’s All-Ireland, even on the day when I was doing commentary. That’s how well I’d view them, they’ve very good footballers and it’s an incredibly difficult task for us. For me they’re as talented as Kerry. They obviously just have a little mental thing to get over when they play Kerry but in my opinion it’s only a matter of time before they beat them.”
Cavan will aim to feed off the good vibes emanating from their stirring round one victory over Wicklow. The Ulster side overcame the deficit of being two men down and trailing by seven points to fashion a stunning 0-15 to 2-8 success.
“It was an incredible evening”, admits Carr. “You had to be there to experience it. It looked real bad at half-time and got worse after half-time. It was just one of those things where fellas dug in. The one thing that any manager wants out of his team is to go to the bottom of the barrel and dig in. That’s what they did. I said to the players after that with five minutes to go, I didn’t care about the end result. What I had seen from the previous 20-25 minutes was one of the most heartening things I had seen in my involvement.”
The centrepiece of Cavan’s victory was the flawless exhibition of marksmanship produced by their marquee attacker Seanie Johnston, who overcame injury concerns to enter the action from the bench and claim six points.
“He is just class. There were two elements to it. Firstly fellas had to work awful hard to get him the ball, secondly he had to work awful hard to get the scores. He did that with tremendous style against Wicklow. But it’s no good having one-man forward line, we need more contributors.”
The hope amongst the Cavan ranks is that they can harness the momentum engendered by that Wicklow win for the Cork clash. They have overcome the disappointment of their provincial exit against Fermanagh and will travel in a positive frame of mind.
“We’re up for it and fellas will give it a lash. We were horrifically disappointed after that Fermanagh game, but we’re back up for the challenge now. You never know there might be a 5% or 10% chance that we could put pressure on Cork and you never know then what might happen.”
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