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Armagh v Cavan: Eugene Keating fired-up by positive thinking

Primed for battle: Eugene Keating, who will carry the flag for the Cavan attack, knows Armagh will be a tough nut to crack
Primed for battle: Eugene Keating, who will carry the flag for the Cavan attack, knows Armagh will be a tough nut to crack
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Eugene Keating's assessment that Cavan lost what was "only a league final" when they were beaten by Roscommon in the recent Division Two decider perhaps puts his team's confrontation with Armagh in the Ulster Championship on Sunday into sharp perspective.

The muscular Keating has remained a rich source of scores for the Breffni county for several seasons now but the absence of championship success clearly rankles with a player who has given much to the cause.

But while he accepts that Cavan will be entering the lion's den on this occasion he prefers to dwell on what he feels are the positives as their biggest game of the year approaches.

"We played Tyrone in the McKenna Cup final at the Athletic Grounds and we are fairly familiar with the venue so playing there does not hold any fears for us," maintains Keating.

"Our Under-21 team have played there over recent years so the guys who have now come through to the senior team from that level will know all about the feel of the venue.

"We have no worries on that score."

He believes that the relatively low-key atmosphere which prevailed at Croke Park for the league final will be in sharp contrast to what will be an Athletic Grounds cauldron on Sunday.

"We know it was only a league final against Roscommon and the outcome did not matter all that much," he added.

"But on Sunday we will be facing an Armagh side that is particularly keen to do well in the championship so it is going to be very tough for us."

While he tends to carry the flag for the Cavan attack, Keating is surrounded by willing lieutenants in Niall McDermott, Martin Dunne and Cian Mackey.

"We are lucky we have so many talented finishers in the side," stresses Keating.

"We are not just depending on the one person to get the scores. We have even lads in the backs that can come up and stick over a score. That's actually what helped us through the league. When some of the top forwards were being tightly marked or maybe not just on their game, other players were able to come through and do the needful in terms of scoring."

In winning promotion via an unbeaten surge, Cavan have to date fulfilled a vow they made to themselves at the outset of the competition, according to Keating.

"We promised ourselves at the start of the league that we would go all out to win every game and we did just that," he said. "We were very happy with our performances in most of the games but we still knew we had things to work on.

"But we will need to be at our peak if we are to see off Armagh."

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