GAA Football

Gearoid McKiernan in line for first start of the season as Cavan host Meath

Gearoid McKiernan featured in the win over Louth at Kingspan Breffni
Andy Watters

GEAROID McKiernan could make his first start of the season for Cavan in Sunday’s derby clash with Meath at Kingspan Breffni.

Swanlinbar clubman McKiernan is one of three experienced players in the frame to start against the Royal county with Jason McLoughlin and experienced Castlerahan forward Cian Mackey also fully fit again.

Mackey has scored six League points off the bench for his county already this season (0-2 in the draw with Clare and four points in the win over Louth) while McKiernan, a former Cavan skipper, also came on as a substitute against the ‘Wee County’.

Both were named on the bench for last weekend’s postponed clash with Meath and could force their way into the starting line-up for Sunday’s refixture with McLoughlin likely to feature at some stage as Cavan go out determined to build on a bright start to their Division Two campaign.

“Gearoid McKiernan is back to near full fitness and so are Jason McLaughlin and Cian Mackey who is developing with every session and every game he plays,” said McGleenan.

“Those three are huge catalysts who are really starting to put pressure on the starting 15 – they know they have to keep producing the goods and performing well because those guys aren’t happy and content sitting on the bench, they want to be starting players.

“It’s serious pressure for the boys that are starting to be looking over their shoulder and seeing those three boys saying ‘You better perform today boys or we’ll take your place’.

“That’s having a huge impact in training and for our games, because the guys have to man-up and play well. That is making us a very competitive team.”

Liam Buchanan will miss out tomorrow as will Pauric Moore who is nursing an ankle injury but former Tyrone full-forward McGleenan will hope to have both back fit before the end of the League.

McGleenan blooded 13 new players in Ennis in the League opener against Clare and Cavan came within a whisker of winning that game thanks to goals from Dara McVeety and Caoimhin O’Reilly.

Butlersbridge clubman O’Reilly was also on the scoresheet against Louth with four points in a 13-point success that was punctuated by goals from Bryan Magee, Niall Clerkin and Ciaran Brady.

The new players in the Cavan panel have settled quickly after a Dr McKenna Cup campaign that included a win over St Mary’s followed by defeats against Antrim and Tyrone.

That loss to Tyrone was a 21-point hammering but manager McGleenan says left the newcomers in his squad with no doubt as to what would be required to succeed at inter-county level.

“It was a huge learning curve for guys in the McKenna Cup to understand the level of football that is demanded of them – it’s the speed of thought and the speed of play,” he said.

“If you’re coming out of Cavan league football and going in against Tyrone, the reigning Ulster champions, you’ll find it hard going but in terms of enhancing our training and giving players an understanding of what is required for this level it was a great baptism.

“It has directed our training and the training since has been absolutely class. They are well focussed on where they want to go and what they want to achieve.”

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