It’s a tough predica­ment for Ca­van as they face rel­e­ga­tion but Gra­ham says all they can do is hope and pre­pare for a Cham­pi­onship tilt

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Sport - BY PAUL KEANE

MICKEY GRA­HAM says it’s all about the Cham­pi­onship now for Ca­van with rel­e­ga­tion to Divi­sion Two al­most cer­tain.

The Br­effni need to beat Dublin to­day and hope re­sults in two other games go their way to re­main in the top flight.

No­body is hold­ing out too much hope of all that hap­pen­ing and Gra­ham ad­mit­ted he’s al­ready think­ing about their Cham­pi­onship show­down with Mon­aghan on May 18.

Gra­ham (above) told Ir­ish Sun­day Mir­rorS­port: “Look, it’ll be a men­tal blow to deal with if we go down but we’ll dust our­selves off and we’ll sit down and talk about it, see where we want to go.

“We’ll have to park it up. The past is the past, you just move on. You can’t dwell on it, it is what it is and it’s all about May 18 then.

“From my point of view, it’s my first year in in­ter-county man­age­ment and it’s a learn­ing curve. You have no time to pre­pare for games in the League be­cause they come so thick and fast.

“You’re ba­si­cally push­ing a lot of work into one week when the matches are game by game whereas now we can to­tally fo­cus on one game know­ing that it is our fo­cal point and that we can put ev­ery­thing in our setup to­wards that day.”

Hold­ers Dublin have used the most play­ers in Divi­sion One this term, a whop­ping 36. That fig­ure could rise close to 40 if boss Jim Gavin uses this dead rub­ber game as an op­por­tu­nity to as­sess Bernard Bro­gan or Philly McMa­hon for the first time this year.

Gra­ham ar­gues the top teams like Dublin, Kerry and Mayo can get away with that level of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion in the league be­cause of their large pan­els but it’s cost

Ca­van at times.

He said: “In the Na­tional League, we’ve been chang­ing tack ev­ery so of­ten and maybe look­ing at dif­fer­ent lads in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions. Come May 18, we’ll know two or three weeks in ad­vance that we have our team we want to put out on the day. From that point

of view, it means we’ll be bet­ter pre­pared go­ing into that game than we have been for any League game that we’ve been play­ing on that week by week ba­sis.”

Pre­sum­ing they suf­fer the drop, it will be Ca­van’s sec­ond rel­e­ga­tion in three sea­sons while they’ve been pro­moted three times since 2014 when they ini­tially came out of Divi­sion Three.

It’s made for a frus­trat­ing few years but fans are hope­ful they can re­deem them­selves in the Cham­pi­onship.

They’re on the op­po­site side of the Ul­ster draw to hold­ers Done­gal and 2018 All-Ire­land fi­nal­ists Ty­rone so a glory run could be on the cards.

Gra­ham said: “Ca­van can’t af­ford to look any fur­ther than Mon­aghan.

“We haven’t beaten Mon­aghan, Done­gal or Ty­rone in,15 or 16 years. We haven’t beaten a top team in the Ul­ster Cham­pi­onship in a long, long time.”

SPRING­ING A LEAGUE Conor Moy­nagh feels the pain of a League loss to Mon­aghanlast week­end

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