GAA Football

Cavan boss Mickey Graham 'planning without' Moynagh and McVeety

Playmaker Dara McVeety opted off the Cavan panel last year to travel, and looks unlikely to play any part in this year's campaign for the reigning Ulster champions. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

ULSTER champions Cavan are planning without absent duo Conor Moynagh and Dara McVeety for the 2021 campaign – although Breffni boss Mickey Graham insists “the door is always open” should circumstances change.

Both opted off the panel last year to go travelling, and ended up missing out on the county’s first Ulster title success since 1997 as Graham’s men defied the odds to claim the Anglo-Celt Cup last November.

It would be a huge boost to the Breffni panel to be able to add men of the quality and experience of Moynagh and McVeety as they look to build on last year. However, the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic ensures they aren’t in Graham’s plans for the foreseeable future.

“No, they’re still on their travels, and with restrictions in place and all that there’s a bit of uncertainty at the moment,” said the Cavan boss.

“But both of them are still working away, they’re still abroad. We’re planning without them unless their circumstances change. But, and this isn’t even just with Conor or Dara, the door’s always open for anybody. It’s never shut.”

Like all county managers, Graham is eagerly awaiting guidance from the GAA regarding when they can return to training, as well as definitive dates for when the National League will commence.

The first round of League games were originally scheduled for February 27/28 but it now looks likely to be the end of March before competitive action resumes.

And Graham says the experience of the first lockdown last year has benefitted the panel and his management team this time around.

“It seems a long way away but the way things are up north and down south with the virus, we just have to take it week by week.

“I know sport was a great lift for people’s spirits during the winter but there’s a lot more going on in the world at the moment. We have to prioritise that.

“A lot of teams, and especially us as a management team, would’ve learned a lot from the last lockdown. We probably had plans in place for this for this so it’s a wee bit easier knowing we’ve already been here before.

“We all have to play a part in this, the GAA and the players themselves, by abiding by the guidelines that have been laid out for us. The majority of teams are doing that… there is a fear factor there at the moment.

“We got hit badly with it in Cavan over the last number of months, lost a lot of people close to home, so from our point of view we’re taking it very seriously.”

The return to the training field will be welcome, whenever it does come.

Having seen the impact it had on his players when they got back together last September, and the subsequent Ulster Championship run, Graham hopes it can serve as an outlet once again.

“The way things are at the moment, it would probably be nice to get back together – just for their mental health as much as anything, getting them out and getting them in that environment.

“It was a serious outlet for the lads throughout the winter months, you could see they enjoyed it and they appreciated being able to do it and that’s why when they went out and played matches, they just played with more freedom because they felt privileged that they had the opportunity to do it.”

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GAA Football