Defeat to Roscommon got Cavan into this mess...
Hard times have come against the door.
The R-word has been spoken about in hushed tones around this region for a few years now. We've been told to tighten our belts, accept that we're not as prosperous as we used to be and adjust accordingly. The Tiger is dead and buried and we better get used to living in straitened times.
Ladies and gentlemen of Breffni, it's time to face the reality: we need to talk about relegation.
Is it going to happen this year? It's almost impossible to say at this juncture, two days out from arguably the most important match Cavan have played since Val Andrews was re-elevated to the throne 18 months ago.
Our senior team is one of the most unpredictable in the country. Performances vary from the sublime to the ridiculous, often in the same hour's football.
Only a fool would consistently back the Cavan footballers in the bookies and the men with the satchels must lick their lips when our boys are due to take the field.
Your correspondent should know, taking wide odds on a Cavan victory as a slight on our tribe which can only be affronted by putting the money down.
We're odds-on favourites this week, so does that mean the Milky Bars are on Paddy Power again this evening? Hopefully not but, in truth, it's very, very difficult to say.
I considered starting this article with "we are gathered here today..." until I remembered that this is not an obituary to the 2012 Cavan senior football team. The corpse is still twitching, just about; their fate is still in their own hands. Regardless of how Offaly do in Thurles, and we expect them to win against a poor Tipp team who have nothing to play for, a draw or a victory here will keep Cavan in Division 3.
Should the unthinkable happen, should we lose and slip through the trapdoor, will it be heralded by with wailing of banshees and rattling of bones as the ghosts of the 30s, 40s and 50s turn their backs on Breffni football for good?
Of course not. There's a school of thought that suggests that a season in Division 4 wouldn't hurt this team as much as it would the pride of their supporters. It's a young team, too young to realistically compete at senior level this season if truth be told, but they are eager to improve, have plenty of talent and just need time to gain some experience and confidence.
Where else to get that than in a lower division, where we have more chance of winning matches consistently. Look at it as a time-out in basketball or a "learning fight" in boxing - a breather, a chance to take stock, regroup and then go at it again.
Regardless, and we're all sick hearing it, this team needs time. That statement has been ringing around Breffni Park so long that it's almost a cliché but in this case, it's true. One Cavan player of the 70s and 80s told me recently that "the problem has been the same since his day". A new manager, he said, comes in, performs a clear-out and repeatedly stresses that he needs time.
Well, if Cavan go down, that time will possibly have run out on Val Andrews as Cavan senior manager. It will be hard to make the case that we've made progress in two seasons and the clubs will be expected to make their opinions known.
Should Cavan win, and it won't be easy against an Antrim team against whom we have struggled in recent years and who would love to spoil the party, we'd be able to look back on a league campaign of consolidation where we picked up the same number of wins as last year while blooding new players.
The manager was bullish when questioned about the whole thing after the Roscommon match. Andrews stared calmly ahead and had no hesitation in providing an answer when The Anglo-Celt's Sean McMahon posed the question about relegation.
"We're not going anywhere near Division 4," he affirmed.
We'll hold you to that one, Val. Good luck.
Postscript: Congrats and well done to the heroic Cavan U21s who defeated Derry last Wednesday night and good luck in the final. All Ulster is humming, Cavan are coming, to paraphrase Sean McElgunn. Hopefully, they will swat the Red Hands again this coming week.
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|Date:||Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 10:08:52 AM|