|Nickname(s):||The Breifne County|
|Dominant sport:||Gaelic Football|
|Football Championship:||Sam Maguire Cup|
|Hurling Championship:||Lory Meagher Cup|
|Ladies' Gaelic football:||Brendan Martin Cup|
|Camogie:||Nancy Murray Cup|
The Cavan County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (Irish: Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Coiste Chontae an Chabháin) or Cavan GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in Cavan.
Cavan GAA has jurisdiction over the area that is associated with the traditional county of County Cavan. There are 8 officers on the Board. For details on the Board's clubs, see Gaelic Athletic Association clubs in County Cavan and List of Gaelic games clubs in Ireland#Cavan. The Board is subject to the Ulster GAA Provincial Council.
The teams of Cavan GAA play home games at Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan. The current football manager is Mattie McGleenan who took over in October 2016, following the resignation of Terry Hyland in August 2016. Previously Hyland had led the under 21 team to two successive Ulster titles in 2011 and 2012. He also led the same team to the All Ireland Under 21 Championship final in 2012 where they lost out to Galway.
The following is a list of sponsors of the Cavan Senior Football team
- 1992: Holybrook Construction
- 1993: Atlanta Conservatories
- 1994: Cavan Co-op Mart
- 1995 – present: Kingspan Group
Cavan have had only 4 sponsorship deals since sponsors on jerseys were permitted by the GAA in 1991. There was no sponsorship on GAA jerseys until the 2nd game of the Meath V Dublin 4 in a row in 1991 so only a handful of teams had sponsorship in 1991. In 1992 Holybrook Construction sponsored the jerseys although it was only for 1 game. For the 1993-94 seasons Cavan Co-op Mart took over sponsorship. Kingspan has continuously sponsored Cavan since 1995.
Crest and symbols
The first crest that adorned the Cavan jerseys was the Coat of Arms for County Cavan. The crest was split into four quadrants and included
- the red hand of Ulster encased in an outline of the Franciscan Abbey which is situated in Cavan town and where the O'Reilly chieftains are buried. Here also lies the remains of an Ulster leader, Eoghan Rua O'Neill.
- The Rampant Lion from the coat of arms of the O’Reilly clans, who were the local lords.
In 2004 Cavan released a new crest for the Breifne County. The crest was designed by the 38th President of the Gaelic Athletic Association Aogán Farrell and Cavan Central Council rep. George Cartwright. The crest draws on cultural, physical and historical influences. The primary colours are blue and white with Ulster's red hand and G.A.A. yellow also prominent. The designers wanted to reflect the following elements
- Breifne: The ancient Gaelic territory. Modern Cavan was once "O Reilly country" and the ancient Gaelic kingdom of Breifne is preserved in the name of the home pitch in Cavan and now on its crest
- Franciscan Abbey: The mediaeval tower from the Abbey in Cavan Town fills the lower quadrant. Here the O' Reilly’s invited the Franciscans to establish a monastery. The O'Reilly chieftains are buried here. Here also lie the remains of Ulster's great leader, Eoghan Rua O'Neill
- GAA Logo: The GAA modern logo fills the right quadrant. The logo is representative of the Gaelic Athletic Association.
- Red Hand 1886: The first GAA club founded in the province of Ulster was formed in Cavan. Ballyconnell First Ulsters formed in 1885 and affiliated in 1886. The date is preserved in the crest. A red hand has always appeared on Cavan crests.
- Lakes and Hills: Our landscape is dominated by "wee lakes and hills". The environment shapes us and this is reflected on the new crest.
One year after the GAA was founded in Hayes Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary, on 1 November 1884, the game quickly spread throughout the country. The first club in Cavan and in Ulster came in late 1885 namely Ballyconnell Joe Biggars in honour of west Cavan Nationalist MP Joe Biggar. The first chairman of the club was Thomas O’Reilly and first secretary was John Alex Clancy. The name of the club was later changed to Ballyconnell First Ulsters.
By 1886 other clubs quickly followed, Bailieboro Home Rulers being the second club to be affiliated and the third was Mullagh Breffnians followed by Maghera MacFinns. By 1886 football clubs spread throughout the county and became very popular throughout the county with a real air of parochial and national pride and young men proud to be associated with this new association. Teams marched on to the field behind their local band, with tram and band usually travelling by brake. However another local team only a few miles from Mullagh Cross Independence, founded in 1887, proved the exception, travelling to their games on horseback.
County Boards were set up throughout the country including Cavan. The first county convention took place on 27 December 1887 in McGoldrick’s Hotel, Ballyjamesduff. The newly elected officers all hailed from the east Cavan area. The first Co Board chairman was T. P. McKenna, Mullagh; Vice-Chairman was Thomas O’Reilly, Ballyconnell and the first secretary was Thomas Mulligan, NT, Virginia. Laurence Fitzsimons, also Virginia, was its first treasurer. The committee comprised Michael Owens, Mountnugent; Patrick O’Reilly, Bailieborough; Thomas Maguire, Annagh; John A. Clancy, Ballyconnell and J. Leneghan, Bailieborough; P. Dempsey, Cavan Slashers was co-opted on 22 January 1888. In the first County Championship the first Ulster’s met the Bailieborough Home Rulers. They played at Cavan in the autumn of 1886. The Home Rulers left Bailieborough at 4am in the morning and brought the goal posts on a horse and spring cart. The first Ulster’s and Home Rulers erected goalposts in a field outside Cavan Town. A large police force warned them they were breaking the Sunday Observance Act. However they played on regardless.
The very first Cavan County Final, under GAA rules was played in a field outside Cavan Town on 30 April 1887. The final was contested by Ballyconnell First Ulster’s and Maghera Mac Finns. The Anglo Celt records that the First Ulster’s were "handsomely rigged out, regardless of the cost" However the Celt was none too impressed with the Mac Finns with the reporter noting that "Maghera Mac Finns appearance was not in their favour." Whatever about their appearance the Maghera men could play football in the 21 a side contest. Mac Finns recorded a famous victory on a score line of 1-4 to First Ulster’s 0-1, thus entering the history books as Cavan’s first Champions.
Cavan's five All-Ireland titles were won in a 19-year period: they foiled Kerry's five-in-a-row bid with a last minute goal from Vincent McGovern at Breffni Park in 1933, beat Galway and Kildare in the 1933 and 1935 finals, won the famous 1947 final in the Polo Grounds in New York City, followed it up with an extraordinary win over Mayo in 1948 on the day of the "big wind" (Cavan led 3-2 to nil at half-time and won by 4-5 to 4-4) and beat Meath in a replay in 1952 through a free-taking display by Mick Higgins. They became famous for their handpass, perfected by players such as Simon Deignan, and were involved in several handpass controversies. In 1928 Kildare's Paddy O'Loughlin may have threw the winning goal into the Cavan net in the All-Ireland final. Cavan got revenge in 1935, but when Packie Boylan handpassed what would have been the winning point against Kerry in the All-Ireland final it was disallowed, and Cavan lost the replay, if not before the celebration bonfires were lit because the Radio Éireann commentator had not noticed the referee's decision.
Controversy was never far from Cavan in the early days of the Association. In 1917 they proposed a new province of Tara, comprising Meath, Louth, Westmeath, themselves and Longford, because of a series of disputes with the Ulster Council, and also tried to play in Connacht. They staged a famous rebellion before the 1930 Ulster final over the venue. Cavan official Barney Fay gathered up a rebel team, which lost the final, and Fay was suspended by his own County Board.
Cavan have won the All-Ireland Football final on 5 occasions – All 5 victories came between 1933 and 1952. Meanwhile, they have won the Ulster Championship on 39 occasions. Their last came in 1997 when they beat Derry 1-14 to 0-16. It was their first Ulster title in 28 years. Cavan have won the National Football League on 2 occasions, in 1947/48 and 1949/50.
Cavan Football Championship
The Cavan Senior Football Championship is an annual club competition between the top Cavan clubs. The winners of the Cavan Championship qualify to represent their county in the Ulster Championship and in turn, go on to the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship. The current (2013) Cavan County Champions are Ballinagh who claimed their 1st Cavan Senior Championship title. The first winners of the Cavan football championship were Maghera McFinns in 1887, who beat Ballyconnell First Ulsters 1-04 to 0-01. Cornafean are the most successful senior team winning on 20 occasions.
The Cavan Intermediate Football Championship is the second tier football championship. The Intermediate champions go on to play in the Senior football Championship. The 2013 Cavan Intermediate County Champions are Killeshandra who became champions with a win over Shercock. Lacken are the most successful intermediate club, having won on four occasions.
The Cavan Junior Football Championship is the third tier football championship. The Junior champions go on to play in the Intermediate football Championship. The 2013 Cavan Intermediate County Champions are Kill who became champions for the third time with a 1-point win over Arva. Templeport, Castlerahan and Butlersbridge are the most successful junior teams, having won five each.
Traditionally the County board has actively discouraged hurling through their policies football but Hurling has been present in the county. The championship has never been held consistently and at times wasn’t finished. Belturbet won the first Cavan Senior Hurling Championship in 1908. Hurling was revived in Cavan in 1917. Cavan Slashers were the standout Hurling team of the early period winning the championship in 1922, 1924, 1927 and 1928. They also won 4-in-a-row between 1933 and 1936.
Again hurling died away in the county with only eight championships been finished between 1937 and 1981. Ballyhaise won successive championships in 1948 and 1949. Granard won their first championship in 1950 and Bailieborough and Cavan Gaels dominated the 1970s and the early 1980s. Bailieborough were victorious in 1966. Cavan Gaels won in 1973 and 1974. Bailieborough won their second championship ten years after the first in 1976 and won again in 1977.
1982 saw the start of Cavan’s most successful period in their Hurling history due to the influence of soldiers from hurling counties such as Kilkenny,Clare and Cork who were stationed at the border of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland during the troubles. From 1982 to 1985 Cavan Gaels and Bailieborough won 2 Championships each. Bailieborough won in 1982 and 1984 and Cavan Gaels in 1983 and 1985. The County team also had success winning the Ulster Junior Hurling Championship in 1983 and 1985. In-between both Championships they won the National Hurling League Division 4 in 1984.
Woodford Gaels broke the Cavan Gaels/Bailieborough dominance and won the next 3 championships 1986-1988. No championship was held in 1989 but the 1990s saw the start of the Mullahoran dominance. Mulllahoran won an amazing 21 Cavan Senior Hurling Championship between 1990 and 2010. Mullahoran’s dominance was finally broken by Ballymachugh who were runners up to Mullahoran 2005, 2008 and 2009. They beat Mullahoran in 2011 on a score of 4-08 to 1-06. No championship took place in 2012 and Mullahoran won their 22nd championship in 2013 beating Cootehill Celtic 0-13 to 0-04. 2014 has seen another revival in Hurling in Cavan. The Cavan Minors did the double won the 2014 Division 2 Ulster Minor Hurling Championship Championship and the Ulster Minor Hurling League. The u21s will compete in the Ulster Under 21 Championship for the first time in 2014.
In 2011 after a disastrous Division 4 league campaign where they ended with a -157 scoring difference the decision was made to discontinue the senior hurling team resulting in Cavan being the only county in Ireland without a senior hurling representative team for nearly 6 years. In 2017 this was reversed and Cavan turned out a team to play in the 2017 Lory Meagher Cup.
Cavan have won Ulster Hurling Championship in 1983 and 1985. They also won the National Hurling League Division 3 in 1984. Their minors have won the Ulster Minor Hurling Championship Championship and the Ulster Minor Hurling League in 2014.
Cavan Hurling Championship
The Cavan Senior Hurling Championship is an annual club competition between the top Cavan clubs. The winners of the Cavan Championship qualify to represent their county in the Ulster Senior Club Hurling Championship and in turn, go on to the All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship. The current (2013) Cavan County Champions are Mullahoran. The first winners of the Cavan hurling championship were Belturbet in 1908. Mullahoran have won the most titles with a total of 21.
Cavan won the All-Ireland Senior Ladies' Football Championship in 1977 beating Roscommon on a scoreline of 4-03 to 2-03. They lost consecutive finals in 1980 and 1981 losing to Tipperary and Kerry. It wasn’t until 2011 that Cavan next reached a Ladies All-Ireland final. They faced Westmeath in the All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies' Football Championship and lost after a replay. 2 years later they were back. In 2013 they beat Tipperary on a scoreline of 1-14 to 1-12.
The Cavan ladies have won the All-Ireland Senior Ladies' Football Championship once in 1977. In 2013 they won the All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies' Football Championship for the first time.
The high point in Cavan’s camogie history was their Ulster senior titles of 1940 and 1941, when they beat Antrim 2-3 to 1-2 after a wrangle over getting permits to travel to war-time Belfast. They lost to Galway by 4-4 to 0-3 in the 1940 All Ireland semi-final, but drew with Dublin in the 1941 semi-final 4-0 to 3-3, thanks to a last-minute goal from Rita Sullivan, losing the replay 3-4 to 1-1. The team was captained by Mollie O’Brien from Killygarry (née Donohoe) who helped revive the game in Cavan in 1968. All Cavan’s scores in both matches were scored by Rita Sullivan. Cavan won the second division of the National Camogie League in 1981 and reached the 1994 junior final only to lose to Cork. They won the Máire Ní Chinnéide Cup in 2009. Agnes O'Farrelly and Agnes Hennessy served as presidents of the Camogie Association).
In Gaelic football Cavan’s biggest rivalry has been with nearby Monaghan. Both counties were the strongest sides from Ulster during the 1970s and 1980s. The 1991 four-game tie added to the intensity between the two counties. The Cavan football team also share a rivalry with neighbours Fermanagh, Meath and Longford. On a national level Cavan’s had a rivalry with Kerry. They stopped Kerry’s bid for a 5-in-a-row in 1933 and they also bet Kerry at the Polo Grounds in New York City.
- Sport, RTE. "Mattie McGleenan named as new Cavan manager". RTE. RTE.
- "Mattie McGleenan named as new Cavan manager". RTE.ie. 2016-10-11. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
- Mollie O’Brien obituary in Hogan Stand
- Anglo-Celt 11 October 1941
- "Final goal for camogie". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
- National Development Plan 2010-2015, Our Game, Our Passion information page on camogie.ie, pdf download (778k) from Camogie.ie download site