Cavan manager Mickey Graham said the key target for the Tailteann Cup was keeping his squad together.

They managed just that and on Sunday will play Sligo for a place in the inaugural final.

"Just keeping the lads ensures continuity and consistency," Graham told RTÉ Sport.

"It's just a chance to play some more football and chase more silverware. We all bought into it."

And so just eight weeks after their Ulster Championship exit to Donegal, Cavan have bounced back with wins over Down and Fermanagh.

"There was initial disappointment after Donegal," he said. "It took a while to get over that and you are always wary of the first game back, but since then we have found momentum."

The two sides met in the league and it was close before Cavan broke free at the end to beat a young Sligo side, who went down to 14 men, by six points.

"There is a buzz around Cavan about this cup, especially with the young kids," said Graham, who has Conor Moynagh, Conor Madden and Niall Murray available for Sunday’s semi-final at Croke Park.

"We wanted to keep developing and we had a good crowd against Down and we had about 6,000 at the Fermanagh game.

"So, I think the competition is going well. I think there will be a big crowd there from Cavan and the other three counties on Sunday.

"It’s early days but there have already been some great games in this competition and a lot of counties bought into it."

Cavan defeated Fermanagh by nine points to reach the Tailteann Cup semi-finals

Any early tweaks to be made?

"Well, we were not aware that the groups would be confined to teams in the north and south," he smiled.

"From that point of view, we were taken aback. We are just so used to playing each other. But next year will see group stages and that’s a better fit."

Graham also feels there is room down the line to incorporate the Tailteann Cup winners back into that season’s Sam Maguire Cup.

"Yes, to bring the winners back into the mainstream in the same season - that’s realistic," he said.

"Every team wants to be in the Sam Maguire and this is a great stepping stone towards that."

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Follow the All-Ireland Hurling Championship quarter-finals on Saturday, Galway v Cork (1.45pm) and Clare v Wexford (3.45pm), via our live blog on rte.ie/sport or on the RTÉ News app. Watch live coverage on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player commencing at 1.15pm with live radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1


Follow the Tailteann Cup semi-finals on Sunday, Sligo v Cavan (1.45pm) and Offaly v Westmeath (4pm), via our live blog on rte.ie/sport or on the RTÉ News app. Watch live coverage on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player commencing at 1.30pm with live radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1