The Galway footballers will travel to Kingspan Breffni Park on Sunday afternoon knowing exactly what is required of them.
Beat Cavan and they will play Division One football next season for the first time in six years, and also get the opportunity to face Tyrone in a league final in Croke Park later this month. Draw, or lose, and they will stay in Division Two for 2017.
The stakes are high.
Former Galway star and UCD’s Sigerson Cup winning manager, John Divilly believes a possible return to the top flight is crucial for Kevin Walsh’s team and their hopes for silverware in years to come.
“It would be colossal for the development of the team and entire squad for the number of reasons. It would harden them,” he said.
“If they could get a few years mixing with the big boys on a regular basis it would lead to consistency and that is what this team needs if they want to challenge for provincial or national honours down the line.”
“Playing the top seven teams in the country next spring would be a super learning opportunity for them if they gain promotion. And this talk of a year too soon is just silly,” said Divilly.
“They fought back very well against Meath and Armagh when they were eight or nine points down and that is a good sign. However beating Cavan will require their best display of the league and they will have to play for the full 70 minutes. The patchy display they had against Fermanagh won’t be anywhere near good enough.”
With his experience of third-level football Divilly has an in-depth knowledge of the up and coming inter-county talent. He rates Cavan’s young players highly. “I think seven of the current Cavan team are only 22. They might not be household names yet, but some of them will be. Loads of them have Sigerson medals with DCU and DIT over the past few years and players like David Givney, their centre-back and full-back Conor Moynagh and Cillian Clarke are top footballers. Clarke has been the Jordanstown captain for the past two years while Gearoid McKieran is a super centre-forward too.”
Divilly believes whichever team wins will get a big fillip for the championship too.
“Whichever team goes up will gain huge confidence for the championship and a bonus game against Tyrone would be a real plus.
“From a Galway perspective if they can get promotion and a crack at a league final it would give them a lovely run into their championship clash with Mayo in June.
“Mayo are still one of the top three teams in Ireland and anything that could give Galway an edge would be a positive.
“Confidence is not easy to get, however, after five years in Division Two it would be brilliant for Galway to go back up to Division One and it would set them up to have a right rattle off Mayo.
“It is set up nicely for Kevin (Walsh) in some ways. Cavan are on the back of four straight wins and most people fancy them to win tomorrow.
“So Kevin can say, ‘Right lads. What do ye want to do? Stay in Division Two or see what it’s like in Division One?’
“They know what is required and they can go out and throw caution to the wind a bit and have a cut off Cavan. A draw won’t do. So, ultimately it will be up to the lads themselves. A manager can only do so much and the Galway players will have to go out and produce a top performance.”
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