Tyrone native Mattie McGleenan concentrating on career with Cavan
CAVAN manager Mattie McGleenan said he would take things “one stage at a time” when asked if he had ambitions to take charge of his native Tyrone in the future.
Eglish clubman McGleenan - who lined out for the Red Hands in the 1995 All-Ireland final - intends to pour all his energy into the Breffni county after being appointed to succeed Terry Hyland last month.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge of Cavan,” said McGleenan.
“One stage at a time. I’m honoured that they’ve given me a chance to manage their county team and all I can guarantee Cavan is that I’ll give them 100 per cent.”
McGleenan signed off on a successful stint in club football by guiding Scotstown to consecutive Monaghan senior championship titles and, since An Bhoth exited the Ulster championship, he has been getting to know his Cavan players.
“I’m doing one-to-ones with them and, I have to say, I’m thoroughly enjoying getting to know the boys and their ideas on football,” he said.
“I suppose I’m building a relationship with the players and the players I’ve met so far are great fellas and I’m looking forward to the year ahead. They get to know my personality and I get to know theirs.
“I have to say that those that I’ve met - like Gearóid McKiernan who was captain last year - are fabulous young men. Gearóid has a great desire to drive Cavan forward and if the rest of the players are anything like him we’ll have an interesting year ahead of us.”
There are no more passionate fans in Ireland than the Cavan supporters. Reared on tales of the great teams of yesteryear, the Breffni faithful will turn out in huge numbers if McGleenan finds a winning formula - particularly if his side play positive, attacking football.
Cavan will need their support to survive in Division One next year - the Breffni men begin with a marquee glamour tie against all-conquering Dublin on February 5.
“The Dubs haven’t lost in two years,” McGleenan pointed out.
“Our challenge is to be as competitive as we can and all I can ever ask of the players is that they try their very, very best. We’ll get a run in the McKenna Cup to see where our team is at but it’s a fabulous opener - it gives you a fantastic reason to start training in January because you’re going to meet the Dubs in a National League game.
“If playing Dublin, the All-Ireland champions, at Breffni Park doesn’t get you excited I don’t know what would. If you want motivation, then Dublin on February 5 is going to be some occasion and I think a lot of Cavan people will want to come out to see what the craic is all about.”
Cavan haven’t won an Ulster title since 1997 and their last final appearance was 2001. Of course McGleenan will hope to end the county’s 20-year wait for a 38th provincial Championship, but for now he is concentrating on putting a competitive squad a together.
“The only target I have at the minute is the first McKenna Cup game,” said the St Pat’s, Armagh teacher.
“I can’t look any further than the League in terms of getting a team together - the first thing I have to do is get a squad in place, get them playing football and then take it one game at a time to see how we improve.
“Yes, an Ulster title would be fabulous but there’s a lot of work to be done between now and then before we would consider ourselves realistic challengers.
“One thing you can guarantee is that, whenever the Ulster Championship comes around, Cavan will give 100 per cent.”