Johnston to miss Cavan's opener against Armagh
SEÁNIE JOHNSTON won’t make his return to Cavan colours in Sunday’s Dr McKenna Cup opener against Armagh at Crossmaglen.
Johnston was expected to feature against former manager Kieran McGeeney’s Orchard men, but has been ruled out through injury, however capable Mountnugent clubman David Givney is back in the Breffni ranks. Givney, who missed last season, is a welcome addition to Terry Hyland’s squad that includes Johnston, but is minus talented forward duo Martin Dunne and Eugene Keating.
Cavan Gaels star Johnston hasn’t played for his native county since 2011 when he transferred to McGeeney’s Kildare. He made his debut for the Lilywhites in a Qualifier against Cavan at Breffni Park scoring a late point, but hasn’t lined out for Kildare since 2013.
“I wouldn’t think Seánie will play, not this weekend anyway,” said Hyland.
“He may play before the McKenna Cup is out, but he’s recovering from an ankle injury and it’s just a matter of when that clears up. David Givney will get some game-time on Sunday because he missed out last year and he’s just coming back and we’ll have Chris Conroy in too. He was injured in one of the McKenna Cup games last year, so we’ll give him as much game-time as we can.”
Niall McDermott could also feature in the pre-season competition. Ballinagh clubman McDermott will hope to build on an impressive 2015 campaign this year: “He’ll be coming back and he probably will play,” said Hyland.
“He needs more football because he hasn’t had that much football. He got injured with the club and he lost seven or eight weeks, so he should be coming back. He might be a bit ring-rusty but these games will bring him on.”
Cavan face the Orchard county at Oliver Plunkett Park on Sunday in the first of at least three meetings between the sides this year. The provincial rivals will meet in Division Two of the National Football League and at the quarter-final stage of the Ulster Championship.
“We have new lads in so we want to give them all a bit of game-time, but we want to win the game at the same time,” said Hyland.
“We don’t enter any competition just for the run out in it, but we’ll try lads out, some of them will have U21 experience from previous years. The college boys are tied up so we’re missing five or six of them, but it’s an opportunity for other boys to show themselves.”
He added: “We always look forward to getting back at it.
“It’s a little bit earlier this year with the way the McKenna Cup falls, but you have to start at some stage and that’s it. Kevin Downes has taken on the training and Owen Maguire is doing the strength and conditioning. We’re working without Anthony [Forde] and Liam [McHale], so we’re a smaller, tighter unit but we’re carrying on on the same basis that we were before.”
After Armagh, Cavan face UUJ under lights at Breffni Park before finishing the group stage against neighbours Monaghan at the same venue on Wednesday, January 13.
“We don’t mind playing on Saturday night,” said Hyland.
“I think Saturday night football is a good idea. It’s good for everybody because it gives the lads a chance to have a bit of down-time and a rest on the Sunday.”