Cian Mackey has soldiered with Cavan 14 years without tasting provincial glory.

On Sunday, the teak-tough forward gets a swing at finally landing the Ulster SFC crown when his county square up to Donegal in the decider in Clones. 

It's a sellout, with Cavan supporters understandably in a frenzy as they dream of celebrating a first title since 1997, when they beat Derry by a point in the final.

Mackey nailed the extra-time score that earned Cavan a replay in the semi-final against Armagh, which they won by six points. It typified the deep desire within himself, and this group of players, to seize the moment. 

"Myself, Martin (Reilly) and Raymond Galligan have been there probably more than anyone else," Mackey told RTÉ Sport's Brian Carthy when reflecting on the side's journey to Sunday's final.

"We've suffered a lot of defeats against teams who actually went on to win Ulster. I think a little bit of hurt and a lot of ignorance got me across the line!

"We're a long time trying to get into an Ulster final. It's a great feeling around the camp." 

There's also a feeling that their success has been a long time coming. Cavan won four Ulster Under-21 titles in a row from 2011 to 2014, giving rise to massive optimism among the Breffni faithful that they were a coming force.

It has not happened overnight.

"The drive of the Under-21s and the minors was huge," Mackey added.

"People were expecting success straight away after that. We as players probably didn't deliver. It's taken this long to get ourselves right and get ourselves into an Ulster final. 

"There's a good blend of experience and youth and between both there's a lot of hunger; hunger for success, hunger to prove to people that we are a good footballing side.

"(Manager) Mickey Graham has brought that out of us. It's great to play the attacking style of football that he brings to the table. There's a lot of players with a lot of different ingredients to help the whole thing come along.

"You've your hard boys at the back and then you've probably your more gifted lads up in the forwards. You need the blend of both and I think we do have a good blend of both."

It was a Donegal man who last delivered Ulster glory for Cavan. Martin McHugh masterminded that '97 success, though his son Ryan will look to shatter their dreams this weekend.

"Martin was the one who got Cavan over the line in '97," Mackey said. "He's still a hero in Cavan. He was a great player. Ryan will be the boy Donegal will be looking to do damage to us. 

"It'll be a huge performance from us that we need and a slice of luck. I think you need a slice of luck when you want to win any sort of title. We'll have to work hard and hopefully get a bit of luck on the day.

"The talent is there. We believe in our own ability without a doubt but we can't look past the Donegal team either. They are one of the top teams in the country let alone Ulster."

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.