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Cavan county football team

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cavan GAA crest.jpg
Irish:An Cabhán
Nickname(s):The Breffni men[1]
The Breffni Blues[2]
County board:Cavan GAA
Manager:Mickey Graham
Captain:Raymond Galligan
Home venue(s):Breffni Park, Cavan
Recent competitive record
Current All-Ireland status:Ulster (QF) in 2021
Last championship title:1952
Current NFL Division:4 (Relegated in 2021 Division 3)
Last league title:1947–48
First colours
Second colours
Current season

The Cavan county football team represents Cavan in men's Gaelic football and is governed by Cavan GAA, the county board of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The team competes in the three major annual inter-county competitions; the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, the Ulster Senior Football Championship and the National Football League.

Cavan's home ground is Breffni Park, Cavan. The team's manager is Mickey Graham.

The team last won the Ulster Senior Championship in 2020, the All-Ireland Senior Championship in 1952 and the National League in 1948.


Cavan (blue) in action against Queen's University Belfast in the 2009 Dr McKenna Cup
Cavan (blue) in action against Queen's University Belfast in the 2009 Dr McKenna Cup

Cavan is the most successful football county in the province of Ulster, having won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship five times, the Ulster Senior Football Championship 40 times, and the National Football League once.

Between 1893 and 1899 Connacht and Ulster didn't take part in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship but they played in the 1895 Leinster Senior Football Championship.

All-Ireland years

In the 1933 All-Ireland semi-final in Breffni Park, Cavan beat Kerry with a last minute goal from Vincent McGovern, ending their five-in-a-row bid.[3] Cavan later went on to defeat Galway by one point in the final to become the first Ulster county to win the Sam Maguire Cup.

Two years later, Cavan defeated Kildare in the 1935 final to bring home their second title in three years.

Cavan's reached the final again in 1947 after defeat of Roscommon in the semi-final. The final was played at the Polo Grounds in New York City, the only time the final was held outside of Ireland. Kerry scored two early goals, but Cavan settled and goals from Joe Stafford and Mick Higgins meant they led by a point at half-time. Peter Donohoe kicked eight points over the hour to seal a famous victory for Cavan on a scoreline of 2-11 to 2-7 to bring Sam Maguire to Cavan for the third time.[4]

Cavan followed this up with a one-point win over Mayo in 1948, to win back-to-back titles. The county reached its third successive final in 1949, but was denied a three-in-a-row by Meath, losing by four points.

Cavan later avenged this defeat, overcoming Meath after a replay in 1952 to bring home the county's fifth, and most recent, All-Ireland title. It remains Cavan's latest appearance in an All-Ireland final.


Donegal All-Ireland winner Martin McHugh was appointed as senior manager ahead of the 1995 season. At this time, Cavan had not won a game in the Ulster Championship in the previous seven years.[5] Cavan won the 1997 Ulster Final, after beating Derry by a point. Stephen King was captain.[6] Martin McHugh was manager; he later described the aftermath as follows: "It was crazy, like something you would see out in Argentina. I was worried that someone was going to get killed under the bus, they'd gone mad".[6] Cavan supporters thronged Hill 16 for the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry, King acknowledging that — despite the early goal from Fintan Cahill — Kerry "deserved their win".[6] After the semi-final, McHugh stepped down as manager having served three years. He cited putting his family first as the reason for leaving.[7]

With Val Andrews as manager, Cavan once again reached the Ulster final again in 2001.[8] A goal from Jason Reilly had Cavan leading at half time, but a strong finish from Tyrone meant they ran out winners on a 1-13 to 1-11 scoreline.[9]

Cavan's most notable achievement in the early part of the 21st-century was ending Seán Boylan's long spell as manager of Meath in 2005.[10][6] Less than a year after this success, Waterford defeated Cavan in the league to halt its push for promotion.[6] Cian Mackey was among several players who were "rested" for the game and not included among the substitutes.[6] The Waterford win was inspired by a line in the Cavan matchday programme that Cavan's defeat would be akin to the "sinking of the Titanic", with Waterford manager John Kiely using this to stir the away team into action.[6]

Mackey later said: "One game turned the whole thing on its head for years. We didn't really recover from that for years, from pushing so close to promotion".[6]

Manager Donal Keogan got the county promoted the following year but league restructuring landed Cavan in Division 2 instead.[6] Relegation to Division 3 quickly followed.

Cavan lost to Antrim in the 2009 Ulster SFC.[6]

The county narrowly avoided relegation to Division 4 in 2012 following a loss by a scoreline of 4–6 to 0–12 to Antrim, surviving because already-relegated Tipperary defeated Offaly when an Offaly win would have sent Cavan down on the head-to-head result.[6][11][12]

Under the management of Mattie McGleenan, Cavan's defence was not strong.[13]

Former senior player Mickey Graham was appointed as manager ahead of the 2019 season.[14] Fellow Cavanman Dermot McCabe and Monaghan's Martin Corey joined him.[15] Cavan reached the 2019 Ulster SFC final in Graham's first season as manager, losing to Donegal. In 2020, Graham led Cavan to consecutive Ulster SFC finals for the first time since the 1960s.[16] Cavan won and, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, went straight into the All-Ireland SFC semi-final, the county's first appearance at that stage since 1997.


Cavan's biggest rivalry has been with nearby Monaghan. Both counties were the strongest Ulster sides during the 1970s and 1980s. The 1991 four-game tie added to the intensity between the two counties. Cavan also shares rivalries with teams from the neighbouring counties of Fermanagh, Meath and Longford. At All-Ireland level Cavan had a rivalry with Kerry. The county stopped Kerry’s bid for a five-in-a-row in 1933 and also defeated Kerry in the 1947 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final at the Polo Grounds in New York City.

Current squad

Team as per Cavan vs Tyrone in the 2021 Ulster SFC quarter-final, 10 July 2021

No. Player Position Club
1 Raymond Galligan (c) Goalkeeper Lacken
2 Killian Clarke Right Corner Back Shercock
3 Pádraig Faulkner Full Back Kingscourt Stars
4 Cian Reilly Left Corner Back Killygarry
5 Brian O'Connell Right Half Back Ramor United
6 Killian Brady Centre Back Mullahoran
7 Jason McLoughlin Left Half Back Shannon Gaels
8 Thomas Galligan Midfield Lacken
18 Conor Moynagh Midfield Drumgoon
10 Gerard Smith Right Half Forward Lavey
11 Gearóid McKiernan Centre Forward Cavan Gaels
12 Oisin Kiernan Left Half Forward Castlerahan
24 Oisin Pierson Right Corner Forward Gowna
14 Oisin Brady Full Forward Killygarry
15 Martin Reilly Left Corner Forward Killygarry
No. Player Position Club
16 Gary O'Rourke Substitute Ballyhaise
9 Conor Brady Substitute Gowna
13 Conor Madden Substitute Gowna
17 Chris Conroy Substitute Lavey
19 Conor Smith Substitute Killygarry
20 Cormac Timoney Substitute Ballinagh
21 Luke Fortune Substitute Cavan Gaels
22 Niall Murray Substitute Cavan Gaels
23 Stephen Smith Substitute Crosserlough
25 Caoimhin O'Reilly Substitute Butlersbridge
26 Patrick Lynch Substitute Crosserlough

Current management team



All-Ireland winning captains


All Stars

Cú Chulainn Awards

Irish News Ulster All Stars

All-Time All Star Award

Team of the Century and Team of the Millennium

Charlie Gallagher was also named on the Team of the Century of players without an All-Ireland medal.

Other notable players

Colours and crest

Kit evolution


Team sponsorship

The following is a list of sponsors of the Cavan county football team (seniors):

  • 1992: Holybrook Construction
  • 1993: Atlanta Conservatories
  • 1994: Cavan Co-op Mart
  • 1995–present: Kingspan Group

Cavan has had only four sponsorship deals since the GAA first permitted sponsors on jerseys in 1991. There was no sponsorship on GAA jerseys until the second game of the Meath v Dublin four-in-a-row in 1991 so only a handful of teams had sponsorship in 1991. In 1992, Holybrook Construction sponsored Cavan's jerseys, although it was only for one game. For the 1993–94 seasons, Cavan Co-op Mart took over sponsorship. Kingspan has continuously sponsored Cavan since 1995.


Cavan has won the All-Ireland Football final on 5 occasions – all five victories came between 1933 and 1952. Meanwhile, the county has won the Ulster Championship on 40 occasions. All bar the 39th and 40th of these came in the 1960s or earlier. The most recent one came in 2020 after a gap of 23 years. The previous one came in 1997 when Cavan defeated Derry by a scoreline of 1–14 to 0–16. It was the county's first Ulster title in 28 years. Cavan has won the National Football League once, in 1947–48.


  1. ^ "Portlaoise should hold no fears for Breffni men". The Anglo-Celt. 6 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Flashbacks: Dublin v Cavan". Dublin GAA. 1 December 2020. The Breffni Blues goal arrived just before the break when Martin Reilly flicked a delivery from Gearóid McKiernan to the net.
  3. ^ "Seán Moran: Old road maps of drive for five for Dublin to ponder". The Irish Times. 9 January 2019.
  4. ^ "1947: The Fairytale in New York". Irish Independent. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  5. ^ "FLASHBACK: The team who put Cavan back on the map". The Anglo-Celt. 29 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Keys, Colm (5 December 2020). "Cavan fever". Irish Independent.
  7. ^ "McHugh quits to put family first". The Irish Times. 29 August 1997.
  8. ^ "Cavan advance to Ulster decider". RTÉ. 24 June 2001.
  9. ^ "Tyrone triumph in thriller as battling Cavan falter at finish". Irish Independent. 9 July 2001.
  10. ^ "Cavan win could signal end for Boylan". RTÉ. 17 July 2005.
  11. ^ "Cavan survive despite defeat". Irish Independent. 9 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Grogan gives Offaly that sinking feeling". Irish Independent. 9 April 2012.
  13. ^ "Can the Garden give Cavan men the Blues?". Wicklow People. 9 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Cavan appoint Mickey Graham as new senior manager".
  15. ^ "Cavan appoint Mickey Graham as new manager ahead of return to Division One". Irish Independent. 21 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Ulster SFC: Cavan comeback floors Down". Hogan Stand. 15 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Banner hero David Tubridy already has more history in his sights after becoming highest league scorer of all time". Irish Independent. 1 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Cavan unveil new jersey for 2021 season". Hogan Stand. 5 March 2021.
This page was last edited on 22 November 2021, at 23:26
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