Gerard O'Kane

GERARD O’KANE: Interesting times for Cavan

NEW year, new me! That line will be trotted out some amount of times over the next week or so when gyms are packed and GAA players are making themselves the promise that they will not take a drop of drink after NYE and be the best version of themselves for the season coming and never miss training.

However, the cute ones will make this promise inwardly as when they inevitably break it, they have no one to be held accountable to. By the way, this is not me being nasty or sharp in any shape or form, it is simply a bit of reality. It is human nature to want to get the best out of yourself, but it is a lot harder to stick by this for a sport which in essence is meant to be a pastime.

So I would just urge players to be sensible when setting their goals for the year and make sure that they are attainable.

By the time this goes to publication, the GAA season will have started with a tranche of McKenna Cup games yesterday and another round coming thick and fast this weekend. With universities no longer in the competition, there are only two games guaranteed for county teams so each game will be taken more seriously than it used to be.

Derry will have started the campaign with a match versus Cavan last night and will head into a game with Down this coming weekend.

This will be a new dawn for Derry, as even post the Rory Gallagher era last summer there was a fair degree of continuity with the same management team in place.

Mickey Harte has never hidden his desire to win the McKenna Cup when with Tyrone and I would imagine that he will have the same ambition with Derry.

Mickey will look to set his stall out early despite missing a number of key players as they have a league opener versus Kerry on Saturday, January 27 which will come around quickly.

Division One does not give much bedding in time as Derry also play Tyrone in the second game so getting an extra game in the McKenna Cup would be something Derry might want to get.

They will want to give as many players game-time and the first three weeks in January is the perfect time to do so.

While it might not be appetizing for players to step out in the depths of winter, I would imagine that a sizeable chunk of supporters will be glad to get football back.

With McKenna Cup and MacRory Cup playoffs and knockout all in the next 10 days, there will be a glut of football to indulge yourself in post-Christmas. While Derry embarking on a new journey with likely the bulk of the same players, their first opponents Cavan will have a completely different look about them.

Raymond Galligan is stepping off the playing field and moving 60 yards across to the sideline. The dynamics of how that all plays out will be very interesting.

It is not uncommon at club level for players to move straight into managing their club team after a long stint of playing, but to do it at county level is completely different. As Cavan have also moved up to Division Two, there will be little bedding in time, and it will be interesting to see how the players react to this new set up.

From the outset, there seems to be a huge backroom team, but I suppose that is names on a page and it would be very rare for all those people to be in the same place at the same time.

It will most likely be a case of most of them dipping in and out and managing from afar as and when contact time is needed. Derry’s other McKenna cup opponents Down are at completely different stage than both themselves and Cavan. Conor Laverty had a very good first season bounce out of Down but managing all that into a second season is a completely different task, but he is experienced enough himself and will have enough good experience around him to help him navigate all of this.

All in all, here is to a long and prosperous 2024 (for Derry anyway) and no doubt there will be plenty of ups and downs and surprises along the way.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW