Hyland's Breffni boys not afraid of making step up
Published 02/04/2015 | 02:30
There's a head-spinning number of possible outcomes in Division 2 this weekend.
So many in fact that the promotion and relegation pictures will only become clear on Sunday afternoon when all the results have been tallied.
Such is the make-up of the division that of the teams in contention for promotion, only Down have their future entirely in their own hands. A win will see them return to Division 1 having been relegated two years ago.
After that everyone else's fate lies, to some extent, in the hands of others. In all, four teams have genuine chances of going up.
Along with Down, Meath, Cavan and Roscommon go into the final day with a real opportunity to play top flight football next year.
On the surface it would appear to represent a significant opportunity to take their sides to the next level.
After all, ultimate success eludes those outside the top flight and no one has managed to win the All-Ireland from Division 2 since Armagh in 2002.
However, much has changed since then and in these pages, Eugene McGee, who had just watched Roscommon beat Meath, asked whether those counties would be sufficiently equipped for life in the top flight should they be promoted.
He argued that such was the gap between the top flight and the rest that they could be looking at a very difficult year in Division 1, perhaps along the lines of Westmeath's pointless campaign last year.
A dismal league campaign in the top division formed a big chunk of the Lake County's 15-game losing streak that lasted almost 600 days.
In Division 2 this term, no one has shown themselves to be head and shoulders above the rest. The form lines are such that it raises the question whether any of the teams that go up this weekend are ready for a spring that could see them head for Killarney, Croke Park and Castlebar.
Certainly the results of 2014 would warn against a quick ascent. Westmeath and Kildare are proving that the slide can be difficult to halt.
Both sides were relegated from the top flight last year and they both head into the final round facing the very real prospect of relegation to the third tier.
Even if they both win, there's no guarantee that will be enough to keep them up. Admittedly, Donegal and Monaghan went up to Division 1 last year and are in no danger of coming back down.
However, as teams who had won significant championship silverware in recent seasons, they are in a very different position to any of the teams that might book their Division 1 status this weekend.
Both Roscommon and Meath have to go back to 2010 for their last piece of provincial silverware while Down and Cavan haven't emerged from Ulster since the 1990s.Cavan need to beat Meath in Navan on Sunday and hope either Down or Roscommon slip up if they are to gain promotion.
And if that comes about, Breffni boss Terry Hyland will be more than happy to have his young side taking on the cream of the country next year.
"If you start thinking like that then you're not backing yourself. You're thinking 'wow we're not good enough here'," said the Cavan manager.
"Look, if promotion comes our way then we will take it with open arms.
"Even coming up from Division 3 last year, it's not necessarily the standard of football that changes but the speed of thought.
"Body and mind get used to a certain level. You'd see it when it comes to championship, teams are just more tuned it.
"But we're a young team. And we are young enough to learn."
First they'll have to get past a Meath team, who like the rest of the division have mixed the good with the bad this spring.
Mick O'Dowd has regularly stated his desire to see Meath back in Division 1. The Royals are also dependent on the results from the Down and Roscommon games if they are to go up and Hyland expects a difficult outing.
"I haven't seen too much of them," Hyland said.
"But from what I have seen, they seem to be dropping back a bit more and playing half backs in their half-forward line.
"Maybe they are preparing for the Leinster championship.
"Physically they are a very big team and that will be a test for us. We played them in Navan a couple of years ago and got a result so we know that we can go there and compete.
"All we can do is look after ourselves. We can't control what happens with Roscommon and Down so we can just focus on ourselves."