Friday 2 December 2016

Mackey hopes home comforts can fire Cavan promotion bid

Published 01/04/2016 | 02:30

Cian Mackey is adamant Cavan can push for promotion. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Mackey is adamant Cavan can push for promotion. Photo: Sportsfile

It's 10 years since Cavan last found themselves in this position - requiring just a draw from their last regulation match at home in Kingspan Breffni Park to gain promotion to Division 1.

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Admittedly, that was the 'old' Division 1 system that split the top 16 teams into two groups of eight. But it still provided an opportunity to mix it with some of the very best teams.

All they had to do was beat a Waterford team that was propping up the table and had lost the corresponding Division 2B match in Dungarvan by 7-14 to 1-7. Odds of 50/1 seemed reasonable for the task in hand and one local broadcaster, writing in the programme, even put forward the case that a Cavan loss would be the worst disaster since the sinking of the Titanic!

Needless to say, the then Waterford manager John Kiely had a few things to say afterwards as his unfancied side claimed a famous 0-14 to 1-9 victory.

You won't find such certainty in any Cavan voice this week as Galway visit for their 'winner-takes-all' clash to determine coveted Division 1 status in 2017.

But with their form picking up during this campaign there is optimism that they can extend their winning form to a fifth game after their dramatic half-time transformation in Navan.

"We're starting to enjoy playing in Breffni now, whereas maybe before we didn't enjoy it as much," admitted Cian Mackey after Sunday's win over Laois.

"Now it's starting to become more difficult to play against us here.

"In the Derry game, we had any amount of chances to draw and even win. I think we had six chances in the last two minutes.

"We started the year with the goal to win all our home games. If we were given the chance of a home game to win it to go up, you'd have snapped someone's hand off for it," said Mackey.

Mackey admits that half-time in the dressing-room in Navan was a cathartic moment.

"We sat down and maybe a few different lads spoke and we realised what was at stake," he said.

"We knew we had been a young team for too long and not doing anything at senior level.

"Last year we lost two home games here and that's why we didn't get up.

"We said in Navan, if we don't win this game we could be back in Division 3 and it's a long road then to Division 1. It just hit home with a lot of lads and we have kicked on from that."

Promotion for either Galway or Cavan would represent a long-term deposit to bank, not a 'get rich quick' ticket. Both have difficult championship assignments, Galway with a probable Connacht semi-final against Mayo (provided Mayo beat London) with Cavan at home to Armagh.

But the importance of Division 1 football in the current format is recognised.

"You have to learn how to play against the better teams," said Mackey.

"You see how competitive the games are in Division 1. It's competitive in Division 2 as well, but from Division 3 it's a bit harder to get up to championship pace.

"If you're going up to Croke Park to play the Dubs or going to Killarney to play Kerry, you're getting yourself prepared for big championship matches.

"We want to get up and play against those boys and pit ourselves against the best."

Irish Independent

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