Cavan may have been relegated from the top tier of the Allianz League but manager Mickey Graham believes the lessons learned in that campaign have got them to the brink of Ulster Championship glory.

The Breffni County posted just a solitary win – over Roscommon – in the springtime as they finished bottom of Division 1.

But championship victories over Monaghan and Armagh (after a replay) have set up a first final appearance in 18 years with Donegal the opponents in Sunday's clash in Clones.

"We felt that during the league we were getting punished for every mistake we made," Graham told RTÉ Sport's Marty Morrissey.

"We were giving the ball away cheaply. It’s something that we’ve tried to work on, [we’ve] a bit more composure on the ball now and we felt that improved during the Ulster campaign.

"I still think we are on a learning curve. We had two tough encounters against Armagh, physically and mentally, there were lots of questions asked and we were just delighted the second day with the result."

Declan Bonner's side have been in every provincial decider bar one since 2011 and come in as heavy favourites.

"If it happens it happens but you can't fault the effort"

Graham knows his side need to produce something special to upset the odds.

"We find ourselves in the Ulster final against Donegal and that’s a regular occurrence for them," he said.

"It’s all new for us, we’re not sure what to expect, they know what to expect.

"We have to arrive on the day fully tuned in and ready for a battle.

"There is always a fear the occasion would get to the lads so you’re just hoping it doesn’t.

"You need a lot to go right, you need a wee bit of luck and you need Donegal to maybe have an off-day. You need a lot of players playing well on the day.

"You have to believe that you are in with a great shout. You just hope that when you arrive on the day that the players believe and that they put their best foot forward.

"Any day a Cavan team takes the field all you can ask the players is to give it everything you have, be honest about it and if it happens it happens but you can’t fault the effort."

Follow all the football action this weekend via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, listen to live national commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 and watch live TV coverage of Donegal v Cavan on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player this Sunday from 1pm.