Cavan boss Terry Hyland to ring the changes for clash with UUJ
CAVAN boss Terry Hyland has vowed to ring the changes on Saturday, despite seeing his side hit the ground running in this year’s Dr McKenna Cup.
The Breffni blues opened their account this season with a 2-8 to 0-11 victory over hosts Armagh last Sunday with a sprinkling of rookies on board and they will go into Saturday night's second round tie with UUJ as favourites to make it two wins from as many outings.
Hyland picked out newcomers Pádraig Faulkner (right-full back) and full-forwards Enda Henry and Thomas Moore for special praise after his side’s victory in Crossmaglen and he intends to continue to use the McKenna Cup as a testing ground for untried members of the current panel.
“We always want to win every match, every competition we enter, but it’s important to get the balance right between that and giving fellas new to the senior county scene a chance to impress,” Hyland said.
“We want to get the desired result against UUJ on Saturday, but it’s important that as many of the players as possible get some game time under their belts at this time of year. The chances are that we’ll see six or seven changes this weekend from the team that started in Crossmaglen.
“It’s a great opportunity for the boys who have come in - plus others maybe who were on the fringe last year - to step up to the plate and give us something to chew over ahead of the National League.”
The Cavan camp has been bolstered by the return to the fold this year of erstwhile bulwarks Seánie Johnston, Eugene Keating and David Givney, although it’s unlikely any of the trio will feature against Jordanstown at Kingspan Breffni Park. Givney picked up a straight red card against the Orchard county, while messrs Johnston and Keating are still short of match fitness, although both took part in a full training session on Wednesday night last.
None of the trio featured last year either in the corresponding second round fixture against UUJ, when the students nicked a 1-8 to 0-10 victory over a Cavan crew that was coming off the back of an impressive opening round victory over Down.
With the aforementioned victory over Armagh under their belts, Hyland isn’t anticipating a repeat of last year’s McKenna Cup campaign: “I don’t remember an awful lot about the UUJ game last year, except that they beat us by a point on an unbelievably bad night for football," he said.
“There was a blizzard and the pitch was almost unplayable by the end of the night, but that’s not taking anything away from UUJ. Like this year’s squad, they had a lot of talented players in 2015 too. UUJ will come to Breffni tomorrow with a lot of senior county players on the bus and, on paper, they look to be every bit as good as the Armagh team we took on last Sunday.
“I’m sure their fitness levels will be that bit more advanced than ours because they know, that in the next five weeks or so, they’ll have Sigerson Cup business to look about. They’ll not be far away from being at full throttle this weekend.”
Now in his fifth full year as team-manager, the Lacken Celtic clubman acknowledges the inclusion of Cavan natives Killian Clarke (full-back) and Michael Argue (midfielder) in the UUJ team that beat (2-16 to 1-9) Monaghan last Sunday lends the prospect of an added flavour being brought to Saturday’s McKenna Cup fare.
“It’ll be a bit unreal seeing Killian and Michael possibly lining up for UUJ and it’s not ideal from our point of view, but that’s the rules and we’ve just to get on with it,” Hyland said.
Apart from the aforementioned Clarke and Argue, Cavan will have to plan without fellow third-level students Fergal Flanagan and Conor Moynagh plus customary full-back Rory Dunne, who hasn’t yet returned to full-fitness following a serious leg injury suffered against London in last year’s SFC Qualifiers. Defenders Joshua Hayes and Killian Brady (who lined out at full-back for UUJ last year) were, like Givney, also red carded against Armagh and won’t be part of the equation this weekend.
Competition for places on Cavan’s first XV has been diluted in the past week by the decision of exciting Cootehill Celtic attacker Enda Hessin - the 2014 Cavan Intermediate Club Player of the Year - to quit the panel.