Martin Reilly: Cavan will keep fighting after Ulster final defeat
Playmaker Martin Reilly says that Cavan's refusal to surrender during their Ulster final loss to Donegal will stand to them in the qualifier series.
The Breffni men now go into the fourth round qualifier draw and are just one win away from the All-Ireland Super 8s.
Cavan trailed Donegal by 0-13 to 0-5 at half time in Clones but battled until the final whistle in a five-point loss.
"We could have thrown in the towel but we didn't, we kept fighting as we have done all year," said Reilly.
"We'll continue to do that. It just shows good character in our team, that we don't give up easily and we keep fighting."
Cavan's first Ulster final appearance in 18 years ultimately ended in disappointment but their performances in Mickey Graham's first year in charge has given Reilly encouragement that they will not have to wait much longer to claim the county's 40th provincial title.
The Killygarry clubman added: "I've been in the Cavan team since 2007 and this is my first Ulster final so it's great for the younger lads to get that experience and hopefully they don't have to wait as long to experience it again.
"We missed too much in the first half and Donegal took their chances and we didn't. We had one goal chance in the first half and if we had even managed to take that then it would have kept us a bit more in the game.
"We kept fighting in the second half, we kept chipping away and we didn't give up but it wasn't to be against Donegal and it's very disappointing."
'I could not have asked for more from them'
Graham, who was part of the last Cavan team to win the Anglo-Celt Cup in 1997, has won praise for the way he has reinvigorated the side throughout the Ulster Championship.
Although a promising Football League campaign ended in relegation from Division One, Cavan electrified the provincial championship with a shock quarter-final defeat of Monaghan and two thrilling semi-final encounters with Armagh before coming up short against Donegal.
"The one thing we asked from the lads was to show their character in the second half and to keep playing until the whistle and you couldn't ask any more of them," said the Cavan manager.
"They really kept plugging away and when they had that run of three or four points in a row and then conceded that goal and came back again and that's a great sign in any team.
"We'll be looking to build on that and obviously correct a lot of areas of our game that malfunctioned."
The four teams to emerge from the third round of All-Ireland qualifiers this week will face the four beaten provincial finalists, including Cavan, on the weekend of 6-7 July with the winners advancing to the All-Ireland quarter-final group stages, which begin on 13 July.