PAT FAULKNER admits it’s a source of concern that all three Cavan challengers fell at the opening hurdle in this year’s Ulster Club Championship.
Ramor, Arva and Cornafean all fell short on Sunday in their respective quarter-final clashes – a miserly return, and one that is only too familiar to followers of Cavan football.
While Ramor mounted a credible challenge against Armagh Champions Maghery only one week after clining the senior title, Arva and Cornafean fell to heavier defeats against Tyrone sides Pomeroy (Intermediate) and Rock (Junior).
The Breffni County have never produced a provincial winner at senior level, but Faulkner and his Kingscourt Stars colleagues came a lot closer than most to breaking their duck.
One of the top club sides Cavan have ever produced, Kingscourt Stars lost to the eventual All-Ireland winners in two Ulster Club finals, Burren in 1987 and Lavey in 1990.
Almost three decades later Cavan have had only one more representative on Ulster SFC day – Bailieboro in 1995 – and Faulkner admits that Sunday was a chastening day for the Breffni Blues.
“With Ramor, you could say a week to prepare mightn’t have been fair. They’re young and probably too inexperienced for that level at the moment. It’s hard to put your finger on it, maybe club football is weaker than people think. People might think it’s stronger than it is. The county team hasn’t done a lot in the last number of years, until the last year or two maybe. No club has done well in the Ulster club competitions.”
His esteeemed Kingscourt side recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of their three in-a-row championship winning team between 1989 and 1991. They certainly held the Ulster Club competition in high regard, but he believes the county as whole could muster more affection for the competition.
“We were a seasoned enough team, we had to win a few championships before we got our run in Ulster. The two teams that beat us went to win the All-Ireland club. It’s hard to put the finger on it. Maybe teams take their foot off the pedal after the championship. Even crowd-wise, people seem to lose their enthusiasm. Arva I thought had a decent intermediate team so I was disappointed with their result.”
Faulkner played with his brother Michael for both club and county, alongside the likes of Barry McArdle, Jim Reilly and Brendan Murtagh. These days, he believes the county’s top talent is spread too thinly to launch a successful assault on Ulster.
“You look at the Cavan team this year, when they played Tyrone in the Division One final, the 15 were from different teams. There’s no one team dominating the county panel.”