‘The top team should win and that should be it’ – Cavan boss Mickey Graham questions league finals

Cavan manager Mickey Graham. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

Mickey Graham has called into question the value of League finals, admitting he would rather not have to play in Saturday’s Division 3 final, given the choice.

Cavan face Armagh or Antrim on April 22 in the Ulster quarter-final, giving them almost three weeks of preparation after they meet Fermanagh in Croke Park on Saturday for this year’s Division 3 title.

The game might yet have major repercussions for Cavan’s season.

In the event of Westmeath making this year’s Leinster final, the Division 3 winners will play in the 2023 All-Ireland SFC, regardless of whether they make a provincial decider themselves.

“I just think the top team should win the division and that should be it,” Graham stated. “Especially with the condensed season now, if there was a break of four weeks, I would say yes, a league final is nice to expose lads to Croke Park for a league final and give them that experience, without a doubt.”

“But you ask Mayo this weekend, and they out the following weekend (against Roscommon in Connacht), would they rather have it done and dusted at this stage.

“If we were out the following week, would I like to be playing in a league final? No.”

Last September, Central Council voted against the abolition of the league deciders.

It was an idea supported in a personal capacity by Connacht chief executive John Prenty but a consensus view that the four league finals should be preserved.

Graham suggested that teams should get at least two weeks preparation for their championship openers, regardless of whether they make a league final.

“Give them that; it is a national title and if Mayo win it they cannot celebrate it because they are out the following week.

“It would be nice to go to Croke Park, win a bit of silverware, have a bit of a celebration with the players, let off a bit of steam but they don’t even get that opportunity. Even doing that, win it and you drive out the gates of Croke Park and it is straight home. There is no saying, ‘we have achieved something, let the hair down.’

“If they continue to do league finals, at least don’t start the championship for two weeks.

“Look, with the way the season has gone now, you’d probably prefer not to play. Give you a bit of time to recuperate. But the flip is, it’s our last competitive game before the championship.

“You can play challenge games but you won’t get the same edge you get in a league final.”