GAA Football

Cavan can still prosper without key trio insists Breffni ace Killian Brady

Mullahoran's Killian Brady will be hoping to cement a starting spot for Cavan in 2020. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

RELEGATED from Division One and Ulster finalists this year, Cavan should be among the favourites to bounce straight back into the top flight while others look nervously over the shoulders, the prospect of the Tier Two Championship looming large.

Yet the Breffni cause suffered a body blow with confirmation that they will be without experienced trio Killian Clarke, Conor Moynagh and Dara McVeety through the League at least.

Clarke has opted to take a year away, while forward McVeety and 2019 Allstar nominee wing-back Moynagh are currently travelling and are not expected to be available until the summer – if at all.

Killian Brady will be one of those working hard to cement a spot in Mickey Graham’s starting 15, but even the Mullahoran ace admits the absence of such key personnel is tough to take for all those pushing the Cavan cause.

“Those boys would be a loss to any county team in the country, and probably moreso for us,” he said.

“In terms of Killian, you can’t begrudge him going away if he’s not enjoying it. I know myself, if I was thinking the same, you’d question what you were offering the squad if you’re not 100 per cent committed to it.

“It might seem harsh, but if you don’t have a 100 per cent Killian Clarke, you question what he can offer. I know he questioned that himself, that’s the kind of fella he is, he’d only show up if he was 100 per cent up for it.

“That’s just his character and, it might sound silly to say, but that’s how much he thinks of Cavan football that he’s stepping away.

“The same with Dara and Conor - you can’t begrudge them a break. You’re playing at that level so long without getting that little of success, you definitely do question it.”

Yet Brady believes that, with the Breffnimen beginning their Dr McKenna Cup campaign against Armagh on Sunday, now is the time for other players to step up and show they have the quality to fill such big boots.

He added: “Between the McKenna Cup and the League now it’s up to us to find someone who’s going to replace them.

“It’s obviously no mean feat to try and do that, but there’s lads willing there and looking to get that extra bit out of themselves.

“We’ve a management team and a strength and conditioning team there who are constantly challenging us and looking for us to challenge ourselves, so that’s why it’s about building our squad and developing our style of play.

“I’ve no doubt there’s lads there who can do it.”

And, despite relegation and a qualifier hammering at the hands of Tyrone, there were still positives to take from Graham’s first year in charge.

Cavan saw off neighbours Monaghan before battling past Armagh, after a replay, to reach a first provincial final in 18 years.

They were a distinct second best to Donegal that day, yet Brady is quick to dismiss the notion that Cavan succumbed to the hype surrounding such a long wait for a shot at the Anglo-Celt Cup.

“You’d nearly anticipate that hype because it had been so long, and the nature of the Cavan supporters being who they are, they’re fantastic and they follow us everywhere, so for them to get to an Ulster final was massive.

“I felt everything was handled quite well at the time, the media duties, the team, the training, we managed to keep a lot of it in-house. At the end of the day, Donegal were that bit ahead of us in terms of strength and conditioning and the state of play, and it’s up to us to bridge that gap.

“We feel we can. We definitely made progress last year and while there was very little success in terms of trophies, this is another chance to do it.

“We’re definitely in a better place than when I first started playing, and you come back every year with new motivation and belief.

“I still feel we’re as close as we ever have been; it’s just about getting over the line and getting those extra few percentages.”

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