Cavan determined to take win against Meath 'weather' or not
Allianz Football League Division Two: Cavan v Meath (Sunday, Kingspan Breffni, 2pm)
MATTIE McGleenan says he wants “sunshine and dry weather” for tomorrow’s clash with Meath, but the forecast is for rain and grey skies.
Like the rest of us, McGleenan is well used to muck and gutters by this stage but his young Cavan side can cope. After all, they began their League campaign under a cloud after a 21-point hammering from Tyrone in the Dr McKenna Cup.
Cavan’s form since then has been very encouraging and manager McGleenan used the chastening lesson administered by his native county to rally his troops to three points from a possible four thanks to a draw against Cork in Ennis and a double-scores (3-17 to 0-13) win over Louth a fortnight ago.
Tomorrow’s fixture is the first meeting of the sides since a Division Two clash in 2016 which Cavan won (with 11 players on the scoreboard) on their way to promotion to Division One. McGleenan had to deal with relegation in his first season as Breffni manager and has been pleased with how his players have begun this Division Two campaign.
“It was important that we hit the ground running in Division Two and got on our feet and got points early,” said the former Tyrone star.
“After coming out of the McKenna Cup I’m sure there were a lot of people who had huge question marks around the team, but I was pleased with how we were going regardless of the results. I knew we were heading in the right direction and the League has justified that so far.
“In the Clare game we finished up with 13 players who had never played League football before so they got an opportunity there. Then the boys came together against Louth and played really well and now we have Meath to look forward to on Sunday.”
Clare and Louth occupy the bottom two spots in Division Two and there is no doubt that tomorrow’s re-fixture against Meath (the game was postponed last weekend) represents a step up in class for Cavan.
Since they were promoted from Division Three in 2013, the Royal county have finished third in Division Two three times out of four and their start to this year’s League suggests that they will be in the promotion shake-up once again. Andy McEntee’s side were held by Roscommon in their opener but surged to a 0-21 to 0-7 win over Clare in the second round of games. McGleenan was in the stand at Pairc Tailteann and was impressed with what he saw that day.
“I was down in Navan to watch them play Clare,” he said.
“They were very impressive in terms of how they went about their business and that has focussed our minds in terms of what we need to do to get a result this weekend.
“The training and the attitude has been class and now we have to get into the consistency of performing week after week if we are going to have the right preparation for the summer time and the Championship in May.”
Last season Cavan took just one point from of a possible six in their three home games and McGleenan has called on his players to adopt a ‘fortress Breffni’ approach and make the Creighan venue a more difficult place to visit.
“Every game is a huge game,” he said.
“We have Meath this weekend and then Cork the following weekend and you don’t any motivation to get up for games like that.
“The results last weekend have shown that Division Two is extremely tight and the teams are very well matched – the one thing we didn’t do last year was make Kingspan Breffni a tough place to come to get results and that is one of our goals this year.
“Any team that comes to Kingspan Breffni this year will find it very difficult to get points. We have three home games and if we can take maximum points out of them we’re guaranteed safety in Division Two and maybe half a chance of getting into Croke Park for the League final.
“We want to make sure we win our home games and we make Kingspan a stronger place to come and play football. Our fans come out to watch us and then best respect we can show them is to play our very best.”
This battle-hardened Meath side is packed with pace through the likes of Eamon Wallace, Graham Reilly and Brian McMahon and they will look to run the ball at Breffni Park.
The Royals have proven to be a mercurial outfit over recent seasons and, while there isn’t much between the teams, they should have the scoring power to get through an inexperienced Cavan defence and take the points tomorrow.