Clarke confident Cavan can mix it with 'the big dogs' in 2017
From Shannon Gaels and Swanlinbar in the far north to Drumgoon, Shercock and Kingscourt on the eastern border and Ballymachugh, Mountnugent and Ramor United in the south, the footprint of Cavan's successful development project stretched everywhere last Sunday as they secured promotion to the top flight by using 20 players from 20 different clubs against Galway.
It was something that didn't go unnoticed even by Galway manager Kevin Walsh who has praised Cavan for the spread of their development work across the whole county.
"Sometimes you get a group of 20 mighty footballers coming through and people start to think that everything is right, but systems have to be looked at in every county, including Galway, to make sure that you give the best footballers the best chance to come through from underage," he said.
"This Cavan team will give it to anyone. They are well-structured, they are prepared to work, they have good ball-handling skills, good kickers on their team.
"I think they have something like 20 clubs represented which is a big thing for any county to say that football is spreading around the place."
Walsh's sentiments are echoed by their athletic full-back Killian Clarke (above) who feels they should have no misgivings about mixing it with the top teams in 2017.
"A lot of people put these Division 1 teams up on pedestals and you think that you are miles away from them," he noted.
"From my own perspective, just playing a bit of International Rules and training with them, everyone is the same. The calibre of player that Dublin have - they are just a better unit, better team and we would not fear any team there in Division 1 at all.
"You see Roscommon there, we always had a good tussle with them over the years and they have gone up and mixed it with the big dogs and there has not been a bother on them. That is where we want to get to next year.
"My back was sore there coming off from the amount of pats on the back that I got. It obviously means a lot to a lot of the older boys who thought that they might never see the day when Cavan were back in Division 1."
His playmaking colleague Dara McVeety acknowledged that getting Eugene Keating, David Givney and Seanie Johnston back on board in the off-season has been a big lift.
"Last year we did not have any big forwards like that. It is great to have those boys back. They can win ball, lay ball off and get scores which is brilliant for us."
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