'We're still trying to prove people wrong' - Cavan boss Mattie McGleenan
AFTER retaining top spot over the weekend and remaining unbeaten in Division Two, Cavan boss Mattie McGleenan insists they are still “trying to prove people wrong” as they aim to make a quick return to the top flight.
Cavan finally killed off Down in last Saturday night’s see-saw clash in Kingspan Breffni Park but they still have some road to travel to clinch promotion.
They make the journey to promotion rivals Roscommon next weekend before hosting Tipperary who also have their eyes fixed on a Division One berth next season.
Cavan have responded well to suffering relegation last season but their manager says the squad is keen to get back to test themselves again against the best in the country.
“I think they enjoyed the experience of Division One last year and they’d like another taste of it and we’re trying to prove people wrong,” said McGleenan.
“I’ll take responsibility for us going down [last year]. It was my first time in and it was a huge learning curve for me.
“I’d like to think that I’m a fairly fast learner. The backroom team has been absolutely superb; everyone’s working really hard. It’s all about the team, it’s all about the players, we’re a tight-knit group and we’re working really hard for each other.”
Cavan may have relied on some of their more experienced men to get them over the line against Down – Cian Mackey (0-2), Gearoid McKiernan (0-4) and Seanie Johnston (0-1) – but McGleenan has unearthed a host of new players that are flourishing in Division Two this year.
Bryan Magee of Cuchullain’s club has assumed the weighty responsibility of free-taking duties since the Dr McKenna Cup, wing-forward Oisin Kiernan continues on an upward trajectory, Enda Flanagan was name-checked by McGleenan while Conor Bradley and Caoimhin O’Reilly have added more colour to the Breffni attack.
“We’ve used 32 players out of a possible 34. The attitude of the players is fantastic,” said the Cavan boss. “[A lot of them] are coming two hours to training and two hours to go home. They’re not getting back to Dublin until half-12 or quarter-to-one in the morning during the week and it’s no issue. They’ll do whatever we want. They’re trying to drive Cavan forward.”
The Cavan bench accounted for five of Cavan’s 17 points on Saturday night and McGleenan has probably more depth in his ranks than he would have expected at the start of the year as their Ulster Championship encounter with Donegal on May 13 edges closer.
The Tyrone native added: “Enda Flanagan came out of the McKenna Cup when people were saying there was no benefit [to the competition]. We found some really wonderful players: Oisin Kiernan, Bryan Magee, Enda – we’ve unearthed some brilliant cubs and they’re playing really well.
“With five minutes to go against Down the game could have gone either way and we kicked on, and that’s the pleasing part. Down are some football team. They reached the Ulster final last year. We knew we’d a game on our hands with these guys coming to town.”