GAA Football

Cavan manager Mattie McGleenan targets a 'hot summer' of football ahead of Down clash

Cavan manager Mattie McGleenan is hoping for a "hot summer" of football
Andy Watters

MATTIE McGleenan wants Cavan’s Qualifier against Down at Brewster Park on June 23 to be the start of a “hot summer” of football for the Breffni Blues.

Cavan bounced back from losing to Donegal in the Ulster preliminary round with a straightforward win over Wicklow last Saturday and now face Down, also heavily beaten by Donegal, in Enniskillen.

The round two Qualifier has been switched to Brewster Park because of work at the Kingspan Breffni stadium, but Tyrone native McGleenan doesn’t see the change of venue as an issue.

“I don’t mind,” he said.

“You tell me where to play and I’ll turn up and play. We’re delighted to still be in the hat.”

Cavan cantered to a 2-16 to 1-5 in Wicklow and McGleenan now has Fergal Reilly, Niall Murray, Steven Murray and Jason McLaughlin back in training as he prepares to cross swords with Eamonn Burns’ men.

“We’re at our strongest this year going into the Down game, which is class,” said McGleenan.

“A year ago we went out of the Championship at this stage.

“But this is an unbelievable competition. We’ve just gone through the coldest winter in League football in our history and now we’ve hit the summer time. Are we seriously not going to try and have a really hot summer and stay in this competition as long as we can?

“The next two or three weeks have the potential to be absolutely fabulous. Do we want to be sitting watching what’s going on, or do we want to be involved in it?

“I know what I want and the players have the same idea – we want to be stuck in the middle of it and enjoying ourselves. Down is the next stepping stone that we have to negotiate to get back into the hat.”

The three weeks since the loss in Ballybofey allowed McGleenan to take stock of his team’s performance against Donegal and he was able to identify positives from a performance that ended in a nine-point defeat.

“A year ago, Donegal beat us in the National League and they destroyed us,” he said.

“A year down the road in Championship football and there were three scores in the game.

“When we played Donegal in Division One last year we were never, at any stage, really in contention. “There were periods three weeks’ ago where we were in the ascendancy and we didn’t take the opportunities to change the course of the game and if you give Donegal an opportunity, they will destroy you.

“We’re a lot further down the road now than when we played them last year so I have lots of pluses and we went to Wicklow last weekend and went about our business really well and that’s a huge plus going forward.”

Cavan hosted Down in this year’s Division Two and came away with a 0-17 to 0-14 win. McGleenan saw enough form the Mournemen to convince him that they will be a threat on Saturday-week.

“They have (Connaire) Harrison and (Donal) O’Hare up front and Ryan Johnston caused us bother in the National League and there’s Caolan Mooney there and Kevin McKernan too,” he said.

“There were three points between the teams in the League. Down is Down and they are going to come to Brewster next week knowing that they’ll be in the game and it’s our job to get about our business.

“The reality now is: If you lose it’s over and we don’t want that. Down were Ulster finalists last year and they are a huge step up after Wicklow and that is a great challenge for us.”

DOWN skipper Niall McParland is expected to be fit for the round two Qualifier against Cavan.

The Glenn clubman was unable to start the second half against Donegal in Clones last Sunday but The Irish News understands that he is confident of taking the field at Brewster Park on June 23.

McParland was injured in a collision with Donegal’s Michael Murphy in the Ulster semi-final.

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