GAA Football

Wharton brothers of Cavan set to become first triplets to play at inter-county senior level

Andrew Wharton could miss out with injury tomorrow night
Andy Watters

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section A: Cavan v St Mary’s University College (Wednesday, Kingspan Breffni, 8pm)

WHARTON brothers Jack, Dan and Andrew will become the first set of triplets to play senior inter-county football when they make their debuts for Cavan in this season’s Dr McKenna Cup.

The trio – one defender (Dan) and two forwards (Andrew and Jack) – are all in line to feature for the Breffni Blues after impressing Cavan manager Mattie McGleenan in action for their club Cornafean.

Dan and Jack are expected to feature in tonight’s opener against St Mary’s while Andrew is carrying an injury but should see action in the Group A games against Tyrone or Antrim.

“They are class and they have brought a great energy to the changingroom,” said McGleenan.

“I’ve enjoyed watching them play club football and hopefully over the next month we’ll see them all playing for their county.”

He admitted: I’m still not sure which one is which because they’re identical.

“Telling them apart is a learning curve right now and we’re still working on it, but they are three fantastic lads and great additions to the panel.”

Alongside the Whartons, Tyrone native McGleenan has packed his first panel of the year with a host of new fresh faces.

“Getting a look over club football in September and October has been class,” McGleenan explained.

“Damien McIntyre had a good season for Shercock and we have Oisin Kieran (Denn), Enda Flanagan and Cormac Daly (Castlerahan), David Phillips (Gowna), Ado Cole (Cuchulainns) and Brian Magee (Ramor) in as well. We have a great new selection of players in which is great for the team.”

Cavan’s panel includes experienced campaigners like goalkeeper Raymond Galligan, Conor Moynagh, Padraig Faulkner and Martin Reilly but the contingent from runaway county champions Cavan Gaels won’t return until the end of the month.

“They are all still out to grass,” said McGleenan.

“We’ve given them a couple of months off and Seanie (Johnston) and those boys will return at the end of January. I’m happy enough that they rest because they had a long campaign up to Christmas time and a bit of downtime would do them the power of good and that’s what we have agreed.”

2017, McGleenan’s first year with Cavan, began with victories over Tyrone and Donegal, but the Breffnimen failed to make the semi-finals after losing to Ulster University in their final group game.

“My aim would be to be in the semi-finals and that is certainly our target right now,” said McGleenan.

“The more football we can get the better because the best way for these new guys to learn about this level is to play at this level. The more games we get, the more it will bring us on.”

Meanwhile, St Mary’s have lost Kevin McKernan, Kieran McGeary, Conall McCann, Matt Fitzpatrick, Brian og McGilligan and Ruairi Mooney from the side that won the 2017 Sigerson Cup. Manager Paddy Tally has assembled a squad full of enthusiastic youngsters who are keen to take their places in ‘the Ranch’ starting line-up.

“The players that have left us from last year have to be replaced and the McKenna Cup offers players an opportunity to step up,” said Tally.

“We have lost players who would have started in the Sigerson Cup semi-final and final last year and losing them has left big gaps in the squad in experience and quality.

“The most important thing for us in the McKenna Cup every year is for our boys to gain experience at a really high level. Hopefully we can come through it without any injuries and we can blend a team so that, coming out of the competition, we’ll know who can play different positions and maybe what system we’ll go with.

“So there’s a fair bit of stuff to learn out of the McKenna Cup and if we can learn it we’ll be delighted.”

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