With 25 minutes left on the clock in Sunday’s intense duel, Cavan found themselves three points behind and needed inspiration from somewhere. Mickey Graham glanced towards his bench for suggestions; the only man trusted to make a difference raised his hand and on came Cian Mackey to rescue the game.
By the time Mackey first make contact with the size 5 O’Neill’s his side trailed by four and with Armagh tails up, not many would have predicted the games finale. Mackey sparked Cavan’s revival with three beautiful points while also missing the golden opportunity to take his side to their first Ulster Final in 18 years.
Mackey knows his side can now live to fight another day, but had chances to win the game as well, “It was a tight, tasty affair. Both teams could have won the game in normal time and both teams could have won it in extra time. I’d say it was tough for the crowd not knowing what was going to happen next but another day in Clones, there’ll probably be even more at the game next week as it’s a double header. It’ll be another duster of a game next Sunday”.
Entering the fray with Armagh in control of the contest would have been tough for any player to try and make a difference, but the Castlerahan man didn’t feel the pressure of the occasion, “You train all winter and when you’re a young fella growing up these are the games you want to play so when you’re coming in, in front of 20,000 you want to make an impact, you don’t want to come in and be another number”.
Mickey Graham will certainly have team selection headaches for the next few days, but Mackey is pleased with whatever role his manager trusts him with, “You relish the opportunity to play for your county and come and kick scores, lucky enough I came on and kicked three points and hopefully the next day, whether starting or coming on I’ll be able to make an impact as well”.
The game played out as an end to end, nip and tuck encounter, a four point lead was massive and one that would have been enough to win most games of its nature. Cavan’s belief in their game plan and experience saw them battle back with the 32 year old looking to Cavan’s division one campaign for inspiration.
“We’ve been on the receiving end of a couple of sucker punches at times in the league and we’ve fought back so you have to think you’re still in the game at all times. If we give up the ghost we could have ended up get beating by 7 or 8 so we just kept plugging away and it paid dividends and we just didn’t get over the line but next Sunday will tell another tale”.
All roads lead to Clones on Sunday again and with Cavan and Armagh, it’s about who learns more and who can execute a game plan to outdo the other “we’ll sit down and have a look at the video and see where we can exploit Armagh but they’ll be doing the exact same on us. I’m sure they have as good a backroom team as we have so they’ll be doing what they can to exploit us and it could be a completely different game next Sunday or it could be a bit of the same, you just don’t know. A lot of good scores kicked today so I don’t think either team needs to change too much”.