Wednesday 16 October 2019

'Mickey Graham has performed heroics' - Peter Canavan gives his verdict on Cavan's rise

Cian Mackey of Cavan celebrates after scoring a late point during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay match against Armagh at St Tiarnach's Park in Clones, Monaghan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Cian Mackey of Cavan celebrates after scoring a late point during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay match against Armagh at St Tiarnach's Park in Clones, Monaghan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

John Morley

Cavan have reached a first Ulster final in eighteen years and the influence of the Mickey Graham, fresh from Leinster success with Mullinalaghta St Columba's, has played a vital role for the Breffni men.

Graham brought Longford's rural club to the heights of an All-Ireland club semi-final, bowing out to the Dr Crokes by a mere five points, in a defiant display which saw them get two goals past the Killarney men.

Graham took that winning attitude to Cavan and has done wonders with the Breffni army, according to Tyrone legend Peter Canavan.

"Mickey Graham has performed heroics with this Cavan team," said Canavan on The Throw-In podcast, in association with Bord Gáis Energy.

It is clear that the bond between Graham and this Cavan team is very strong, visibly evident in Graham's post-match interview in Clones after their replay victory over Armagh.

"He was very emotional after the game yesterday, but he's got his key players all playing very well," said Canavan.

Canavan praised the tactical prowess of Graham, as he put Gearoid McKiernan at full-forward in the knowledge that Brendan Donaghy was out with a suspension, forcing Armagh into an uncomfortable reshuffle.

"You have to credit Mickey Graham, he realised that Brendan Donaghy was suspended, he figured that Armagh didn't have someone of the same physique in their fullback line, so he stationed Gearoid McKiernan in full-forward, which meant that Armagh had to use Charlie Vernon," said Canavan.

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"McKiernan had a very influential game, scored three or four points and Vernan was taken off after 29 minutes," he added.

Another aspect of Graham's game plan that Canavan praised was the use of his bench and not folding under the pressure to start Cian Mackey.

In the drawn extra-time thriller against the Orchard county, he had been immense from the bench, scoring three points to rescue the match for Cavan, but Graham persisted playing the veteran as an impact substitution.

"Before the game a lot of people in Cavan were saying that he has to start [Mackey] because he performed so well the last day," said Canavan.

"Mickey decided to hold him back and once again he had a massive bearing on the game in helping Cavan get over the line."

Although admitting that Cavan would be underdogs against Donegal, Canavan believes they will 'have nothing to fear' and pose a threat in both defense and attack.

"In defense, Conor Moynagh played one of the best games he's ever had in a Cavan jersey, Darragh McVeety up front has been superb and continued that rich vein of form yesterday," he said.

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