Football

Former Tyrone star Stephen O'Neill ready to help unlock fresh talent in Cavan

Stephen O'Neill has previously worked as a forwards coach with Antrim and his native Tyrone
Stephen O'Neill has previously worked as a forwards coach with Antrim and his native Tyrone Stephen O'Neill has previously worked as a forwards coach with Antrim and his native Tyrone

Former Footballer of the Year Stephen O’Neill believes outstanding talent in Cavan can be unlocked and developed in an exciting new era for the county.

O’Neill has joined the management team under new boss Raymond Galligan, and he can’t wait to get started at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Mickey Graham stepped down at the end of last season after guiding the Breffni men to the Allianz League Division Three title under Galligan’s captaincy.

“Cavan have a lot of good talented footballers and I’m looking forward to getting working with them over the next number of months,” said O’Neill.

“It’s a new role, a new challenge and I’m looking forward to it.

“Working at inter-county level is a nice level to be at, it’s a good challenge and you always learn from wherever you take on jobs.”

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Cavan have completed in the Tailteann Cup over the past couple of seasons, but promotion to Division Two means they’re strongly placed to return to the All-Ireland series in 2024.

But the planning process is still in its early days, and no specific targets have yet been set.

“I haven’t sat down with the management team yet to discuss the targets for the team.

“But listen, it will be to win as many games as you can, and see where that takes you.

“Whatever level you’re playing at, every team is there on merit, every team is equally well coached, so you’re just looking for performances on the day.

“If you take every game as it comes, and keep winning and keep learning, you’ll be in a good place at the end of the season.”

O’Neill, one of the game's greatest attackers and a treble All-Ireland winner with Tyrone, has previously worked as a forwards coach with the Red Hands and with Antrim, and is set to take up a similar role in Cavan.

“They have a lot of potential, they have a lot of good forwards, and they have a big, strong, physical team as well.

“They’re one of the biggest teams in Ulster, they’re well conditioned.”

He had a brief meeting with new manager Galligan last weekend prior to turning out for the Tyrone Masters side in the All-Ireland semi-final at Kingspan Breffni Park.

“I met Raymond down in Breffni Park an hour beforehand. He’s a lovely fellow and I look forward to working with him. he’s young and full of fresh ideas, and it will be good to get started.”

The visit also gave him a sense of the passion for the game that burns in the hearts of the gaels of Cavan.

“They’re a county that love their football, you see all the groundsmen, the knowledge they have of it, and the passion they have of club football in Tyrone even, they be asking questions about it.

“It’s a very passionate place about football, and hopefully it will go well.”