Wicklow face an uphill battle in the first round of the All-Ireland senior football championship qualifiers after being drawn against Cavan.
John Evans’ men were drawn in the first round of the qualifiers this morning after being heavily beaten in the Leinster senior football championship quarter-final against Dublin yesterday by a score of 4-25 to 1-11.
Meanwhile, Cavan go into the qualifiers having exited the Ulster senior football championship in the first round after losing 2-20 to 1-15 against Donegal.
However, Cavan enjoyed a more fruitful league campaign than Wicklow — gaining promotion to division one by picking up five wins from seven games while Wicklow finished rock-bottom of the Allianz football league in division four.
This will be the first time since 2010 that Wicklow clash against Cavan in the All-Ireland senior football championship qualifiers, and the first time since 2013 overall. Ominously for the Garden County, Cavan won out that day by a single point — 0-15 to 2-8 — at Breffni Park in Cavan.
Wicklow will have home-field advantage this time around but they will remain huge underdogs against their division one opposition, something which Evans himself recognizes.
“It is a tough game but nobody said it was going to be easy. We’ve got to shake ourselves down and get at it and get rolling again,” Evans told WicklowNews.
“[Playing Cavan in Aughrim] is a home comfort certainly. If we continue with the pride that we’re playing with Aughrim is going to mean something to us. We’ve got to make it count because we’re up against a division one team again which is going to make it very difficult for us.”
Despite the heavy but expected defeat against Dublin yesterday, Evans insisted that there were positives to take from a game in which Wicklow were tested against the very best the game has to offer.
“I was happy with the lads that they kept playing and they kept trying in tough conditions. You’re meeting the best team in the land there’s no question about that and the best team for the past 30 years I suppose, so I was happy with the way they kept playing. It was a very good experience for them and we took plenty of positives out of it.
“The only chance you get to play against the likes of Dublin is in the Leinster championship because they’re such an exceptionally good team. They’re favourites to win the All-Ireland so they’re going to do a lot of damage to a lot of other teams let me tell you — we won’t be the only ones who will suffer under the Dubs,” Evans said.
Wicklow will host Cavan in the first round of the All-Ireland senior football championship qualifiers in Joule Park, Aughrim on Saturday the 9th of June.