The Breffni brief

Photo: Irish Examiner (Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

We’re back in Championship action this coming weekend as the All-Ireland SFC Group Stage gets underway. Our Round 1 match in Group 2 is against Cavan on Saturday evening at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, where throw-in is 5pm, with Meath’s David Coldrick reffing it.

For the first time in a long while for a Championship match involving us, there’s no live TV or GAA GO streaming coverage of the game. Midwest will, though, be providing live radio commentary on it.

Although we once contested an All-Ireland final against them – the infamous ‘Big Wind’ decider of 1948, which they won in hugely controversial circumstances by a solitary point – ourselves and Cavan haven’t met often in recent years.

Cavan twice made it up to Division One inside the last decade – in 2017 and again in 2019 – but on both occasions they only lasted the single season.

We played them in Castlebar in both 2017 and 2019. They turned us over in the 2017 meeting, winning by 1-14 to 0-15, but we prevailed in the meeting two years later on a scoreline of 1-13 to 0-11.

The last two times we’ve met in the Championship were in qualifier matches back in the Noughties. The most recent one of these was in Round 1 of our ill-fated 2007 campaign when we won by 1-19 to 3-7 at Saturday’s venue. That, incidentally, was also the first year of the blog’s existence and my match report on the game is here.

Prior to that we also met them in Round 4 of the qualifiers two years earlier. That game was played at Dr Hyde Park and we won it by 0-11 to 0-8.

Photo: RTÉ

Okay, so much for the history lesson. What’s much more relevant, of course, for Saturday is how Cavan are looking like right now.

Fairly okay is the short answer. Cavan made the bold step last September of appointing as manager Raymond Galligan, their goalkeeper and captain when the county won the Ulster title during Covid in 2020, with Galligan picking up an All-Star that year.

The new man has surrounded himself with an impressive backroom team too. The Mayo connection in the form of James Burke is no secret but other names in the set-up include former Meath LGFA All-Ireland winning manager Eamon Murray, former Tyrone great Stephen O’Neill and long distance runner Catherina McKiernan.

In his first National League season, Galligan’s Cavan – newly promoted from the third tier – enjoyed a solid Division Two campaign. In what was a competitive division, with plenty to play for, they won three, lost three and drew one to finish third on seven points, albeit well behind promoted Donegal and Armagh.

They opened their League campaign with a four-point win away (in Carlow) to Kildare but they lost by a single point to Donegal in Breffni Park in Round 2. A fortnight later, though, they were the ones celebrating a one-point success, as they squeezed past Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Another minimum margin win followed in Round 4, when they got the better of Louth in a high-scoring encounter at Ardee. A draw with Meath in Navan came after that.

Now actively chasing promotion they came badly unstuck against high-flying Armagh in Round 6. The Orchard County fairly cut loose that day at the Athletic Grounds, enjoying a fifteen-point win. Another defeat followed in the final round, this one unexpected, as Fermanagh came away from Breffni Park with a four-point win.

While Cavan’s decent form in Division Two is sufficient for us to approach Saturday with a degree of caution, their form since then in Ulster is what marks them out as tricky opponents for us.

They opened their campaign with a preliminary round win over Monaghan in Clones. They won that one well too, coming out on top on a scoreline of 3-12 to 1-12 over opponents who last year made it all the way to the All-Ireland semi-final.

Photo: Belfast Live (Inpho)

They exited Ulster two weeks later but only after they’d given Tyrone a proper bellyful, dragging them to extra-time where they lost out agonisingly by a single point, on a scoreline of 1-23 to 3-16.

That, sadly, isn’t the only cause for agonising within Cavan in recent weeks. That’s because their exciting forward Paddy Lynch, top scorer across the four divisions in this year’s League and who bagged 1-9 against Monaghan and 0-5 against Tyrone, suffered a cruciate ligament injury in training two weeks ago and so is out of action until next year.

Photo: RTÉ

That’s a cruel blow, both for the unfortunate player himself and for the county, and it will obviously make their task harder against us on Saturday evening. This is perhaps reflected in the odds for the game, which we’re strongly fancied to win.

Despite our extremely irksome penchant in recent years of losing to Galway (three times) and Roscommon (twice) on home turf in the Championship since 2016, we’ve always managed – sometimes with difficulty – to see off non-Connacht opposition at the venue. That list includes Louth, Monaghan, Donegal, Armagh, Kildare and Fermanagh.

Saturday will tell us if Cavan are added to that list. Let’s end with a vote on how you think this one will go.

How will we do against Cavan?

  • Win (71%, 594 Votes)
  • Lose (24%, 197 Votes)
  • Draw (5%, 45 Votes)

Total Voters: 836

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27 thoughts on “The Breffni brief

  1. Cavan are no back number but them being without Paddy Lynch is like us without Ryan. If we can’t win this well we are in serious trouble. I’m looking at our style of play which we have being playing which doesn’t suit us and we need to start without players that slow up the play like Coen and Brickendon. They can come on when we are well ahead to see out the match. I’m the eternal optimist so I’m hoping we can reset now and bring something new and more exciting to the table.

  2. Yes, we should be winning…and not narrowly. But “should” and “”will are different animals.

    It continues to amuse/amaze me how so many “knowledgeable” punters claim that after this or that game we will “know where we really are at”. How much do you really need to see? We should know NOW.
    As James Horan would say “Lookit……”
    There are at least 8 teams at our level or above….in Leinster Dublin, Munster Kerry, Connacht Galway and ourselves (Roscommon nearby), Ulster Derry, Donegal, Tyrone and Armagh. And maybe I am missing some??? Roscommon???? Let us face facts even though we may not like to. We have a nice YOUNG team. Give them time and they may deliver .They are great lads. Good luck to them and their backroom staff and Up Mayo forever.

  3. This is a very tricky one and one we will do well to win with our current way (It would be an offence to call it style) of play. We are playing a game that is hard watched. We have 2 members of management back again (doubt its for free) expecting different results with the same shite and a manager who Im disappointed with and I’m afraid has shown more weaknesses than strengths.

    On and off the pitch this is a very worrying time for Mayo GAA. While other counties like Louth, Donegal and Armagh are getting stronger we are getting weaker by the looks of it. There is no fear factor playing Mayo. Coupled with that we blew poll position in the Connacht U20 group and couldnt even make a B final then this weekend. We brought back another manager and the revolving door in Mayo GAA continues.

    Off the pitch, we have a very clueless board who have done very little to tackle the huge debt. Is it time to look at a business model and bring in a paid executive to run Mayo GAA? Martina Jennings got an accolade I see but remember she is getting a nice big salary to run the hospice so why not pay someone to do the same for Mayo GAA. This week both Kilkenny GAA and Cork GAA will get a huge cash boost from two Springsteen concerts and Cork have done similar events and concerts to tackle their debt…yet our boys are sitting on their hands and the best stadium in Connacht sits idle again this summer with one big attendance (this Saturday) in the period April May and June.

    The cracks and warning signs are beginning to appear and when the Mayo GAA brand becomes less appealing what then for Mayo GAA and the huge debt? Its time for change across the board

  4. Tricky assignment indeed. Teams knocked out earlier in the provincials are usually well up for first round of All Ireland series as we were v Kerry last year, while teams who were disappointed with provincial final losses especially when they could have won ,such as ourselves and Armagh, often find it very difficult to pick up the pieces in their next game. Added to that Cavan performed very well v Monaghan and Tyrone and will no doubt relish a crack at us in our far from invincible fortress of McHale Park. The loss of Lynch however is a cruel blow to Cavan. Should be an interesting game and I think the bookies odds are strange. A win would give us the feelgood factor again as well as almost guaranteeing a preliminary quarter final. Beat Ross in the following match would probably see a shoot out v Dublin for top spot. A defeat to Cavan however would leave us with a tricky trip to the Hyde to stay in the competition. Some noses were looked down when we scraped by Div 2 Louth and lost to Div 2 Cork last year. A loss to Div 2 Cavan on Saturday would put said noses seriously out of joint.

  5. If we can’t beat cavan we may as well not go through. Sorry no dis respect to cavan but come on its bad times when we are worrying about maybe loosing to cavan.

    Shouldn’t underestimate cavan but by God we shouldnt be worrying as much

    Should be beating them you’d never hear the dubs or kerry worrying about loosing to a team below them in rankings.

    Need to get that winning mentality going yes was a hard loss to Galway.. But have full faith our guys will bounce back v cavan nothing but a good win here will do need to get the momentum back.

    Good luck guys mayo 5 or so.

  6. Cavan will almost certainly cause us problems as they will set up similar to Louth last year and Galway and there in lies the problem.we have shown nothing new in terms of breaking down this type of defensive set up .endlessly soloing the ball back and forth does not take defenders out of position or ask any questions.Anyway we can live in hope that something even slightly innovative has been worked on

  7. I think we”ll beat Cavan. Despite the mess we made of it against Galway there were also some good things too. Tommy Conroy’s pace and all round play has really improved in the last two games and I think it’ll be interesting to see if he steps it up again at home on Saturday. The same could be said for Mattie Ruane. We had Galway under the cosh at midfield until they brought on Maher and dropped Comer out for the kick outs. What I really hope to see is us becoming more ruthless on the scoreboard when we do get on top – we have the firepower – but we lacked the belief the last day to put Galway away in that first half when we had the chance. Why couldnt we take shots on like Donegal and Armagh did yesterday? If (a big if) we can find that confidence we can go and put up a good score on Cavan to set us up nicely for the next few weeks. Mayo by 7.

  8. Having watched all the provincial games I feel this is the most open championship for years.

  9. I feel the middle eight need a shake-up and a little tweaking here and there. I believe if they’re all fit this is a team to take us forward
    Coyne McBrien O’Hora
    Paddy Sam Hession
    Mattie &Jordan
    Tommy Diarmuid McLoughlin
    Aidan Cillian O Donoghue

  10. The Umpire. O’Hora is a warrior and I also think he should start but not at corner back. The other thing I’d have to disagree with you on is the absence of McHugh in your lineup. One of our most important players and should be one of the first names on the teamsheet.

  11. We should be well able for Cavan if we improve even a little of Galway performance where we dominated the game and just needed better decision making on pitch and on the line. Surely we will have learnt something as we have the players not to be troubled by Cavan if we play at same intensity as we did in Salthill!

  12. Wow I didn’t forsee anyone voting for a loss, things are low but we only lost by a point to Galway without our very very influential captain.
    I don’t think this is are as bad as people make out and far away fields look greener , we need to get fitter and move the ball in a slicker fashion , bring the Mayo chaos, the mayowrecking ball football, paddy, Sam, donnacha bursting through tackles coming forward, eoin Mac, Tommy C overlapping, Loftus, diarmuid and Jordan picking off scores in the pocket and cillian ROD and AOS between them brining chaos and scores inside .
    It will return, were not a bad team, just need tidying around the edges, were more dependant on one or two players than we have been for a long time but get behind the lads, they are feeling the dark cloud too and help free them out .
    I do think there’s way too much emphasis on high % shots and recycle, good distribution and attrbute alot of that to Rochfords style which worked well with Andy and Cillan inside when they on fire and Doherty, Mcloughlin, Carolan, Durkan, Keegan, Boyle, Vaughan A-line breakers coming forward, but were not blessed with that talent now so need to adjust to what we have

  13. Agree with Clare here, should be beating Cavan comfortably at home.
    Be Midwest for me as I have a Confirmation that day but sometimes the radio coverage is the most enthralling.
    Can’t believe GAA Go would not profit from this game, pity Stephenites couldn’t broadcast or Mayo Gaa TV, but I expect its tied up with some red tape somewhere.

  14. I think Cavan, will fancy their chances. Looking at Ulster final, shows, you cant sit back on a lead, and invite teams onto you, it will end in tears. I think Cavan nearly caught Tyrone, for exactly same reason. And Mayo were better than Galway on most areas of field, apart from the most important one at end, the scoreboard. Again with short kickouts, you asking teams that behind in scoreboard, to push up on you, turn you over and score, and then rinse and repeat. I hope if Mayo in lead with few mins to go, they push on and finish match, and not let what happen against Galway happen agian this year. If we lose, and beat by better team, then I can get over that easier than what happen last match

  15. Agree Clare. If we can’t beat Cavan and Roscommon we won’t be at the business end and that will be that. Not taking these games for granted but beating Dublin has to be the target. Cavan and Roscommon will be good preparation. But beating Dublin will give us a great chance of AI success. I know many will say that is not going to happen but if we believe and the players believe then we can do it. I just have a gut feeling about how the run in is shaping up for us.

  16. I would think it’s fairly obvious that if we can’t beat Cavan and Roscommon that we won’t be going’s like saying if Man Utd can’t beat Man City then they won’t be winning the FA cup but we couldn’t beat cork last year and fell over the line against Louth.while I think we will beat Cavan and Roscommon I would hope to see some improvements in the area’s that have mentioned on here over and over and particularly in our ability to close out a game

  17. Looking at the Leinster Final, Louth stayed with Dublin until the 55 min or so. They also managed 2 goals against them, although losing to them by 4 points it was 21 points last year. It gives a good template to setup against the Dubs and If a larger Louth support base was there who knows what would have transpired. Gives us hope that the Dubs can be caught and we can top the group.
    The “Small” matter of Cavan and the Rossies has to be hurdled first but we can and should be winning these matches.
    Both are potential banana skins but we need to get ourselves into a position to give ourselves a 2 week break if we are to have any chance at Sam.

  18. Cavan are no mugs based on their performance against Monaghan and Tyrone but I do expect the win as Lynch is a significant loss. the improvements needed from the Galway game

    – Plan for the danger men and adjust ‘in-game’. (we didn’t adjust for Comer)
    – Less lateral and take the chance when on (5/6 shots should have been taken sooner when is position to do so)
    – Plane for a sweeper when we don’t have the ball (no one in front of Comer or in place when direct ball is kicked)

    Cavan will have borrowed the shawl for this one so the Galway learnings need to be made. I am confident enough they will. Things that needed to be improved going into the Galway game were done to a degree (Reape ‘s performance and kick outs, Tommy and Ruane’s influence, a plan for Kelly, got into plenty of scoring positions). So its some good tweaks needed not necessarily major surgery….

  19. Apologies for typo’s ‘Plan’ for plane..

    Also meant to add the mission now should be to get to the Dublin game with 2 wins in the bag to give us something to shoot for. That gives the best route to a semi.

  20. The Paddy Lynch thing is huge, he ended up as top scorer in the ulster sfc despite only playing 2 games, he was also the top scorer in the entire country in the nfl as well as being the best free-taker in the county,so he is a fatal loss to cavan.
    Their second best player in Darragh McVeety out too

    Basically think Mayo without ROD, Derry without mcguigan, Kerry without DC

    Cavan do have some good matchups for Mayo round the middle 8 though, guys like faulkner, gerry Smith and ciaran brady well able to match up on any of our strike runners in that middle 8, and killian clarke probably better than any of our midfielders.

    However I do expect a backlash from Mayo, and we seem to have close to full strength ,that coupled with cavans lack of scoring power in Lynchs absence should lead to a 6 point win

    Mayo 1-16 Cavan 1-10

  21. The soccerisation of gaelic football is almost complete.
    We have absorbed it’s confusion regarding the direction of the opponents goals as well as its terminology. Team-layout of course is a cut-and-paste job.
    Seems more about coaching-egos taking centre stage and supporters better acquiesce with mock admiration of a code becoming more and more homogenous and rrelevant.

  22. Cavan are no mugs and I’d fancy them to put in a proper display if it was breffni, but Mayo will have too much for them in McHale. We’ll have to see if the rossies turn up against Dublin but I’d add as a footnote that anyone basing the Dubs performance against Louth as a marker as to where they’re at is mistaken- They never moved out of second gear and I’d bet they won’t go any higher than third in the group stages. They were on a hiding to nothing playing that Leinster final.
    Same applies to Kerry in Munster…

  23. I listened to the Ah Ref podcast last night. They had someone from the Anglo Celt on and he was saying that Cavan have a terrible record in Breffni park. Actually worse than our home record.

  24. @PK.Totally agree with you on the use or non use of McHale Park for music concerts to help significantly reduce the millstone of the debt hanging over the County Board. I was at The Boss in Kilkenny on Sunday and I was saying the exact same thing to my friend. And how all 4 concerts were down the eastern seaboard and around to Cork and nothing on the west side. We have Croke Park, Nowlan Park and Pairc Ui Chaoimh and Semple Stadium, in the past all using concerts very successfully to reduce their debts. Unless I am mistaken, I only remember one such concert anywhere in the west, which was Bob Dylan, which I was at in Pearse Stadium. I am sure that there many enthusiastic concert goers in this side of the country, many of whom, like myself traipsed across the country to see Bruce. There must be a market there and McHale Park would be an ideal venue, as indeed would The Dome for smaller concerts. We need some people with vision in the county board, as they seem to be asleep at the wheel.

  25. Recent Connacht championship defeats in MacHale Park against Galway and Roscommon but Mayo have never lost a championship match to a non Connacht team in Castlebar

    Wins against Cavan,Fermanagh,Kildare,Derry,Armagh,Donegal,Monaghan and Louth

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