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Youthful exuberance key to Cavan's progress

By Declan Bogue

There is a different look about Cavan now.

Four years ago, in their last win in the Ulster Championship against next-round opponents Fermanagh, they won through with a contribution of points from the dead ball by Martin Reilly.

On Sunday, Reilly came off the bench to help them across the line. Back in 2009 he was a floppy-haired rake of a footballer, just home from a spell playing soccer with Burnley. Now, he is hard-grafting wing-forward with a muscular build. That just shows you how the face of the game continues to change.

However, there is still room for a waif-like attacker, gloriously exhibited in Martin Dunne's eight points from play against a generous Armagh defence.

After the game, the young attacker was spreading the praise around his colleagues.

"It's an absolutely great result for Cavan football. I think that's going to put all the doubts to bed there now. The young lads really stepped up to the plate," said Dunne.

"I had the easy job, the ball that was going in there was just unreal, it was a dream to play full-forward with the ball that was kicked in. It's my job just to put it over the bar."

Making his championship debut here, it was noticeable that when Armagh turned the screw and were within one point of the hosts following Ethan Rafferty's goal, Cavan were able to respond with four unanswered points, Dunne grabbing two of them.

That effort was acknowledged as he said, "We showed good character when the goal went in, we didn't let it affect us, we came up and kicked the next three scores and put four points in it again. It's a good sign of a team to do that but we have to keep the heads down now, we're only in the first round.

"We were very confident coming into the game. People might have thought we were underdogs but we weren't in our eyes. It'll be good to get a chance to get another rattle at Fermanagh."

Echoing his manager who hailed the effort of players further out the field whose hard work led to the scores, Dunne added, "It's my job to kick the scores, it's the lads out the field who are doing the donkey work."

The telling score of all of them of course was Cian Mackey's goal. It gave Cavan a launch pad and a shot of adrenalin. The provider of the pass to Mackey was Ronan Flanagan, who passed off the assist as something minor, before describing the driving force of this present Cavan team.

"When you have the under-21 lads coming through, you are worried about your place. They keep pushing you and pushing you and that's what we need," he said.

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