GAA Football

Cavan's attacking plan will take time says McGleenan

Cavan manager Mattie McGleenan says it will take time for the attacking principles he wants to impart on Cavan to become embedded. Picture by Seamus Loughran

IT will take time to marry Mattie McGleenan's vision of attacking football and Cavan's natural inclination for a more defensive style, the Breffni boss admits.

The former Tyrone forward took on the job last winter with a vision of trying to improve the scoring threat of the side that had won promotion to Division One under Terry Hyland.

They finished the League campaign as the country's lowest scorers across the seven games but as things progressed, performances and the cutting edge improved.

It culminated in a superb win away to Mayo and a very creditable draw with eventual champions Kerry before falling to a final-day defeat against old foes Roscommon.

McGleenan's Scotstown team was renowned for their willingness to play an open style during his reign, and they had success in doing it.

But with the relatively condensed nature of the National League and this being his first term of office in Cavan, McGleenan knows there is plenty to be done.

“It's trying to marry their style of football with how I would like them to play.

“You have Division One to implement that idea and it's a very cutting-edge and ruthless level of football. Really, your training ground is those National League games. Each one of them is so important.

“It's been trying to negotiate and work at the two of us coming to a point. I want attacking football and to build on the defensive format as well.

“That will be an ongoing process this summer. You can't achieve that in one month. That's six months, a couple of National League campaigns, a couple of good Championship runs, God willing, to really start to build into how I want them to play football.

“From my point, we're well down the road but I still think we have a lot of the journey to go.”

After the positive vibes that came off the Mayo and Kerry games, and which sent them into the final day still with a chance of survival, the 11-point defeat in Roscommon was a major disappointment.

As it happened, it wouldn't have mattered in terms of relegation had they won, with Mayo and Kerry both having won their final encounters to steer far enough clear of the drop.

But it was a fourth defeat in five meetings with Roscommon since they met in the Division Three final in 2014, with the other meeting ending a draw two years ago.

The notion of a mental block against Kevin McStay's side, though, is dismissed by McGleenan. He points to the evidence of events in Kerry's win over Tyrone as proof of how tough four straight weeks of top flight football was.

“The National League was hectic. With us losing the Tyrone game to the weather and having to play four weeks in a row, mentally and physically that was a huge period of time for us.

“We went into the Roscommon game and all of us, including myself, were physically nearly out on our feet. It was a huge ask.

“It was a month's football that was fabulous, but we had very little time to train during the week, a lot of it was just recovery during the week.

In terms of our preparation for the summertime, that was a huge month for us getting to know the players. And the players got a real chance to play top-level football, week in, week out.

“There was nothing left [against Roscommon]. Tyrone were well beaten that weekend as well, and we were the only two teams that went four weeks on the bounce.

“They had huge games as well against Mayo and Kerry in that period. It's a huge ask to go four Sundays in a row.”

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