Cavan can give themselves a fighting chance of survival by beating struggling Roscommon
Allianz Football League Division One: Roscommon v Cavan (Sunday, Dr Hyde Park, 2pm)
THERE are all sorts of permutations and survival is out of their hands, but ultimately it’s simple for Cavan: they have to win tomorrow to have a chance of avoiding relegation.
Their hosts Roscommon have dropped like a stone after making the semi-finals last year, but the Breffnimen can hang in there if they win, Mayo lose to Donegal and Kerry avoid defeat against Tyrone.
Mattie McGleenan’s side took too long to find their feet in the top flight, but at least they go into the game with the wind in their sails having followed a morale-boosting win over Mayo with a draw against Kerry last Sunday.
Meanwhile, Kevin McStay’s Rossies have lost six out of six and the energy and style that saw them come within a whisker of winning the Connacht Championship last year.
McStay will hope his side can salvage something from a disastrous campaign and find something to build on for their Championship meeting with Sligo (presuming the Yeatsmen come through the preliminary round against New York) by ending their eight-game losing streak tomorrow.
“I know the patience is wearing thin at home,” the former Mayo star and RTE pundit admitted.
“People have to hold their nerve and stay with it. If they want to chop and change and get rid of half them young fellas and bring back what? It doesn’t work like that.
“So we’ve moved on to a longer-term plan. Three years. I’ve spoken to the Board about it. That’s what I want to do. And it would be nice if people hold their nerve and stay with it. It is difficult, these experiences. They’re not simple ones, obviously.”
Cavan struggled against the physical Rossies in recent meetings, losing twice in Championship Qualifiers and in the 2014 Division Three final.
When he took over from Terry Hyland, McGleenan promised to play an attacking brand of football and while Cavan never lack numbers in their own half, they have produced some good scoring spells in this campaign.
Rory Dunne has been solid at full-back and his presence there has allowed Killian Clarke to play further out the field. His impact around midfield provides the platform for playmaker Martin Reilly, Gearoid McKiernan and the hard-working Dara McVeety to push forward in support of targetman full-forward Conor Madden and the ever-reliable Seanie Johnston.
Johnston’s late equaliser against Kerry has given Cavan their survival chance and McGleenan is convinced the Breffnimen have proved their worth in the top flight.
“I’m delighted with the attitude, because that’s the main objective, to compete week in, week out,” he said.
According to the old saying: ‘You don’t become a bad team over night’, but Roscommon may be an exception to that rule.
The westerners have gone from contenders to whipping boys in quick time and Cavan, the form side in this meeting, will send them down with a clean sweep of losses and give themselves a chance of survival by winning tomorrow.