'Gutsy is a good word but I think we're looking for more than that'

Cavan v Donegal - reaction

Cavan full-back Padraig Faulkner felt that Cavan should have been ahead at half-time, having been the better team in the first half.

“We felt nine-all didn’t really reflect how well we were playing in that first half. Donegal are a team that pride themselves in getting early leads and we didn’t let them do it. We said to ourselves that the longer we stay in the game, the better chance we will have of winning it but we were just a wee bit unhappy with ourselves going in at nine-all,” stated the Kingscourt Stars man.

“As you saw in the second half, the goals won the game. I think if we went in three or four points ahead, we would have managed the game out well but obviously that didn’t happen on the day. They got their goal chances, the rub of the green on some of them, and it just kind of skilled out momentum. Wit was very hard to recover and then when we did go up the field, we were nearly trying a wee bit too hard to work something. They managed the game well and it was tough for us to come back from it.”

Asked about a “gutsy” performance, Faulkner said: “Gutsy is a good word but I think we’re looking for a wee bit more than gutsy, we’re looking for wins each time we go out. I know this year we were down in Division 4 and eve though we weren’t putting in great performances, winning was the key in all the games and it’s just a pity that it just came to a stop at this stage.”

As regards having played in Division 4 earlier this year and now going into the Tailteann Cup, Faulkner said: “I suppose you’re not playing the top teams. It was a new experience for us going in as favourites in every game so it was a different card that we had to play. We usually get geared up for the top teams so it was a different experience, it was a learning curve for us and no different to the Tailtean Cup, it will be a good learning curve for us.

“It’s a competition there to be won. You find yourself in it, that’s it, there’s nothing else you can do. I suppose I’ve been playing football for Cavan for six or seven years and only have two medals to show for it. It’s another competition and we’ll be going whole hog for it.”

Cavan forwards coach Seanie Johnston, meanwhile, also felt Cavan should have been ahead at the break. The teams were very evenly matched on the day, he said.

“Yeah, we probably should have been, I suppose it was a case of they probably didn’t even have two good goal chances but they got two goals and we had two really good goal chances early on. I have to watch it back, one potentially was a penalty and one just clipped the bar, maybe the keeper got a hand on it.

“But that’s the difference between the two teams today, there was very, very little between them I felt but just taking those goal chances and not taking them was the difference between the two teams.”

Asked about Cavan’s impressive offensive play, Johnston said: “It’s something we’re trying to get into our game, we’re trying to kick the ball more and have targets and outlets higher up the field. In the first half it paid a lot of dividends, we probably should have gone in with maybe 2-9 or 2-10 at half-time.

“Like I say, those goal chances will probably haunt us for the next couple of days but there were a lot of positives in how we tried to play and how we played. We had a lot of young lads in our forward line too who really stepped up to the mark and shone on a really big stage in an Ulster semi-final in Clones which is a huge positive moving forward I think.”

Paddy Lynch continued his impressive form.

“Paddy has the world at his feet in terms of football and he’ll get out of it exactly what he puts into it. He’s a hard worker, he’s an incredibly talented lad and a really, really nice fella which is absolutely massive as well. He has a huge future ahead of him and the opportunities are endless for him. He is a very very hard worker. For Cavan, it’s great that we have someone like him coming to the fore, he’s only just gone 22 years of age so he’s a real, real talent and that’s something we’ll be looking to utilise moving forward.”

While this will feel like another moral victory in some ways, Cavan were bitterly disappointed, said Johnston.

“It stings, it hurts. We came here to win the game, we thought we could win the game. To be honest, there wasn’t anything out there on the field that told us we couldn’t win the game. We were probably written off in a lot of quarters, some of the odds were big at times, 5/1 and all this sort of stuff, but the players know that they can perform and compete with the best teams in the country, it’s just doing that more often.

“That’s why it’s so disappointing now that we don’t go into a qualifier system and potentially get a crack at another big team. I think Donegal are fourth favourites for the All-Ireland. So look, they’re very, very good, we knew they were good but we felt we could match them and for long periods I think we did match them, so that’s a positive out of today.”

Will the Tailteann Cup be a major goal now?

“It has to be now. For the players, for the management, for everyone. It’s another trophy on the line, it’s an opportunity to get back to Croke Park. We had experience of that this year, getting to Croke Park and winning a trophy there. This is going to sting for a couple of days but we’ll regroup Tuesday or Wednesday night and we’ll set new targets and we’ll chase it like these boys have chased everything that we’ve asked them to do.”