GAA Football

Time has come for Cavan to come of age insists Conor Moynagh

Conor Moynagh is one of a clutch of Cavan players who have enjoyed underage success with the county
Neil Loughran

THE time has come for the current crop of Cavan players to deliver on their potential – and taking Monaghan’s scalp on Sunday would be the perfect place to start, according to Conor Moynagh.

Drumgoon wing-back Moynagh is one of several players in the Cavan dressing room who enjoyed considerable underage success, as the Breffni County landed four consecutive Ulster U21 titles from 2011-2014.

However, despite making forward strides under Terry Hyland – including winning promotion to Division One – Cavan have been unable to make the breakthrough at provincial level.

Last year they took eventual Ulster champions Tyrone to a replay in the last four, before being routed - 5-18 to 2-17 – in the return fixture.

Now under former Red Hand forward Mattie McGleenan, the Breffnimen go in as underdogs against neighbours Monaghan this weekend, and Moynagh says the players feel it is high time they stood up to be counted.

“People have asked what happened to all the U21s who won a couple of Championships, but our captain Killian Clarke was on three of those teams, he won a minor medal as well,” said Moynagh.

“I was on those teams with him, so was Dara McVeety, Joe Dillon, Gerry Smith, Ciaran Brady has a few, Niall Murray has them, Jason McLoughlin… any amount of lads in there.

“The core of the team has come from a winning background but this is going to be a massive game for us because we haven’t proved ourselves at senior level. Fair enough, we got promoted to Division One, but we went straight back down.

“Monaghan don’t have an old team and they got to Division One and stayed there. They’ve proved they are one of the top teams, so it’s a big challenge for us.”

Moynagh got a close look at Sunday’s opponents when the counties played out a miserable 0-7 each draw in Castleblayney back in February.

Then, the Breffnimen were still finding their feet under McGleenan having listened to Hyland’s voice for five years.

But they showed signs of improvement towards the close of their ultimately ill-fated League campaign, beating Mayo in Castlebar and holding Kerry at Kingspan Breffni Park, as former Scotstown boss McGleenan begins to put his stamp on Cavan.

“His personality is infectious – he’s very positive. Every day is a good day with Matt,” said Moynagh.

“You look back at our League and there’s positives and negatives, but he certainly looks at the improvements we can make and how positive that can be for us.

“It was new for him and new for us. There was always going to be a period of feeling each other out and I suppose that kind of showed at the start of the League, and it showed for us as players too.

“Last year in Division Two, we were going well but making mistakes and maybe getting away with it. This year we’ve been punished for those, but you could see we started to gather a bit of momentum towards the end of the League.”

Renowned for his attacking bursts from deep, Moynagh may find himself thrust into rearguard action on Sunday against a Monaghan side no longer so dependent on star forward Conor McManus.

Conor McCarthy and, in particular, Jack McCarron gave Malachy O’Rourke’s men an added dimension in the Spring, and Moynagh believes they possess more firepower than the counties’ last Ulster Championship meeting two years ago.

He said: “Everyone called them a one man team for so long and yet they still managed to do it. Surely if they were just about one man you’d just triple mark him?

“Maybe naively we looked at them that way and now we don’t. They’re a force to be reckoned with. Finishing third in Division One, considering how competitive it is, is no mean feat.”

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