The Tailteann Cup is in safe hands with Cavan goalkeeper Raymond Galligan.

‘Our goal now is to put all our energy into the Tailteann Cup’

The Cavan squad have put the disappointment of their Ulster Championship defeat to Armagh – and the failure to qualify for the Sam Maguire which it signalled – behind them and are fully focused on the Tailteann Cup.

That was the message from team captain Raymond Galligan at Monday’s competition launch in Croke Park. The Lacken clubman didn’t dress up the Armagh loss as anything it wasn’t but, he said, the team have re-focused now.

“Obviously it was very disappointing the way we just under-performed in the first half against Armagh. We felt really good going into the game and we thought we’d be putting on a far better performance than we did so that was very disappointing for the team,” he said.

“But we went back to our clubs, and I suppose that was good, to hit reset and try and enjoy our football and we came back training last Tuesday night. We had a really good, honest conversation about what it was that we now wanted to achieve.

“We made it very clear that our ultimate goal now is to put all our energy and all our work into the Tailteann Cup. Training has been really good, the panel has stayed together which is really important and we’re really looking forward to the Laois game this weekend.”

Having made the final of the inaugural competition, Galligan is very aware that it offers possibly the most direct route to the Sam Maguire.

“We learned from last year that it’s a really good opportunity to concrete a position in the All-Ireland series. By coming up short last year, losing the final, it was a very tough pill to swallow because when you’re in the final, you’re there to win and we just didn’t get the job done on the day.

“So obviously we are really hoping to be able to get a result and win it this year but all the same, we cannot look any further than Laois. We’ve a very tricky group, we also have Offaly and London away so it’s going to be a very tough task but having the whole panel together, having a real resilience built up over the last number of years, I think we are in a good place to hopefully go one step further this year.”

The Cavan veteran, who made his debut in the Tommy Murphy Cup way back in 2006, believes that Cavan’s extended run last summer allowed them to hit the ground running in the National League this year.

“Yeah, absolutely. I think by getting the good results last year in the Tailteann Cup, by playing these teams who are down in Division 3 and 4, it really gave us an opportunity going into the league this year and a headstart in my eyes by getting the additional training together, by spending that bit more time together, by getting the extra bit of conditioning… And also by getting that more time in Croke Park, we got the semi-final and final there, so I feel we definitely had a headstart on a few teams.

“We had a really good start to the league, I think that was really from the Tailteann Cup run we had last year.”

Cavan open their Tailteann campaign against Laois this Saturday; after that, they will face London away and Offaly at a neutral venue.

“Laois had a difficult defeat against Dublin but Dublin would do that to a lot of teams. Laois had a very good league, they were very unlucky not to get promoted on score difference, they beat the eventual champions Sligo by six points the first day out.

“They beat Wexford and they’ve won a few challenge matches in recent weeks. They are a very good strong team, they’ve great forwards, forwards that we’re very familiar with – the Evan O’Carrolls, Kingstons, Mark Barry… we can’t take them for granted and we have to give them the respect they deserve.”

The mood in the camp is good, he said, with all players committed for the Tailteann.

“What was great to hear was that a number of players, when they went back to their clubs last week, lads who had been in on the county panel, they really stepped up and performed, which was great because when you go back to the clubs, there is that expectation on players to perform at that little bit higher of a standard. All the players have knuckled down, all the players, both the new and the younger players really bought into it.

“Everybody sees there is an opportunity to get back into Croke Park. Everybody really wants to get that number between one and 15 and I suppose whoever gets that jersey against Laois is going to really want to hold on to it because the prize at stake is so high.

“We want to try to get the result against Laois to move on to London with that momentum and everybody has been fighting hard for that jersey over the last number of weeks.”

Having scored 2-10 for his club in a Division 1 league game against Arva a couple of weeks ago, maybe he will be tempted to line out in attack for Cavan now, it’s suggested.

“I think those days are gone, I don’t think the gears are working that well – they never worked too well!” he laughed.

“No, it was just nice to get out, we are struggling for numbers at the moment with the club so it was nice to get out and kick a few points but those days are well and truly over!”