By Niall Gartland
A NEW club, a new county and a new challenge – Colin Malone, who led his native Ballybay in 2019 and 2020, has taken the reins at Cavan club Lavey.
Malone stepped down as Ballybay boss in the wake of their Senior Championship final defeat to Scotstown in the autumn, and he’ll be hoping he can go one step further as manager of Lavey.
Lavey only have one Senior Championship title to their name, back in 1951, but they’re a solid championship outfit, taking eventual winners Castlerahan to a semi-final replay in 2018.
They didn’t do quite so well last season, as they fell way short of the mark in a one-sided quarter-final defeat to Crosserlough, but Malone is well aware that the pedigree and desire is there.
Malone said: “They do seem to enjoy the championship. I’ve watched their video of that defeat to Crosserlough, they were 0-6 to nil down after 10 minutes so it was hard for them to claw that back.
“They’ll be hoping things will be a lot different this year. They play intermediate league football and if that goes ahead it should be a good platform for getting the team ready for the championship.”
Seven clubs have won the Oliver Plunkett Cup in Cavan in the last decade alone, so there’s no doubting the competitiveness at the top level. Lavey haven’t been among them, but Malone is still very encouraged by what he’s seen from the club.
“It’s a different challenge for me. I was over my own club for the last two years – you give everything to your own, but at some stage you have to move on – those lads were probably sick of listening to me.
“I was talking to the Lavey chairmen, a couple of the players and a few people in the know in the Cavan and when I took everything into consideration, it was a challenge I was very much happy to take. I’m close to Marty Curry, who trains Cavan, and I’ve known Dermot McCabe down the years. I’ve a good knowledge of six or seven Cavan teams, but I won’t be long getting to know the rest as in this job you have to do your homework to do the thing right.”
Malone has assembled an extensive backroom team – Marty Fox on video analysis, statistics and training duties, Liam Maguire as selector and coach, Ciaran Tierney on stats, Barry Smith as physio, Owen Smith looking after the strength and conditioning side of things, while club chairman Damien Tynan will also be heavily involved, along with a few others.
It’s just a pity that they can’t really do too much at present as a result of the restrictions, and Malone says it’s about time that collective training was permitted again.
“Speaking personally, it’s annoying me at this stage. I don’t know the exact stats on the numbers who have got Covid from training and playing matches, but I’d say it’s very minimal. Numbers spiked after post-final celebrations last year but there’s going to be no cups or celebrations with any club until September at the very earliest. I think things should be opened up for players’ health and well-being as much as anything else.”