Interviews were hard to come by on Sunday evening as the Cavan faithful swarmed Clones’ famous turf. Floods of blue and white spilled onto the field of play to celebrate what was a historic win for the Breffni men, the warriors fresh from the battle engulfed in the hugs and cheers that followed.
Conor Moynagh was all too happy to describe the events that had just unfolded. Having survived two glorious goal chances in the first five minutes, to taking a controlling seven point led only for their margin to be demolished to a single point. Finishing strongly and fighting off a gallant comeback from Armagh, it was certainly a day to be remembered for years to come. But no medals are handed out for semi final victories and the prospect of Donegal lies in store in two weeks time.
But today was for the supporters, the chance to see the Cavan jersey on Ulster final day is surely something to be celebrated. Moynagh points to the great support that has followed his team all year, even while enduring an up and down league campaign. “When you look on the pitch now it explains everything. It’s been a long time since Cavan was here”.
“I was fortunate enough to be involved in a couple of minor and under 21 as was a lot of this team but at senior level it’s different gravy and it means a lot to us. We’ve celebrated every win, the crowd have been on the pitch for every win so far in the championship and even in the league, the one win we got, we had people out on the pitch, it’s amazing, the counties really getting behind us and it means a lot to us”.
A lot of the current senior team spent their underage on successful minor and under 21 teams which brought about a sense of hope and ambitions that rumbled throughout the county. However, until this year, most felt they struggled to have the same impact at senior level, a debate that Moynagh feels was unjust,
“There’s been a lot of talk about the lack of this team coming through to senior level but if you look at the core of what that team was, they’re still only 27, 26, 25 now so the lads are really coming to their fruition and if you can hold that team together and dabble in Mackey to come off the bench to perform his heroics and Martin Reilly and Ray Galligan you have a strong team there”.
Cavan have come through three hectic games so far this season which can only be a good thing heading into the counties first Ulster Final in 18 years. Monaghan and Armagh have now fallen at the feet of Mickey Graham’s men, but Moynagh knows they have the biggest game of their lives in two weeks time, “We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves; we got to an Ulster Final, that was our ambition at the start of the year, now we just have to take it one step further”.
“The fact that it came to a replay shows how tough it was, we had a good start against Monaghan and that was a closer game than people might have realised. That was hard going in the second half. Armagh the last day out, we were level nine times I think throughout the entire duration of the game. It took 90 minutes and still nothing separated the teams. We got a good start to the game today and Armagh dragged themselves back into it, it was back to a one point game at one stage. So that really shows that the six point margin might flatter us a wee bit and I think that everyone that was here today knows that”.
“We’ve had everything thrown at us in the last couple of games, we started well against Monaghan and got a good lead, they came back at us in the second half, we held on for a four point win. Tit for tat in the first half against Armagh, then went a goal down and a man down but fought our way back into the game. We were a point down with a couple of minutes left in extra time and we showed we have the resilience and steeliness there to fight back, and we showed that again today. We’d a good start, Armagh got it back to a point and we held on and pushed out again”.
Cavan will surely be the underdogs for the final game of the Ulster Championship but the favourites tag is not something that will play on Moynagh’s mind, “Donegal is another challenge again, we saw how impressive they were last night against a very strong Tyrone team so they’ll carry the favourites into the final but we carried favourites into today, Tyrone carried favourites into last night, Monaghan carried favourites in against us. I don’t think the favourites tag means anything in Ulster and that’s been shown in the last few weeks”.
Cavan can celebrate their achievement but for Moynagh the final is there to be won, “You can see the joy here that we’ve just got to a final and maybe the crowd are happy with that but this team aren’t. There might not be pressure from outside on this team but we’re going to put pressure on ourselves, we’re not just there to show up, we’re there to win the cup”.