By Niall Gartland
RAMOR are the only side in Cavan with a perfect record after nine rounds of league fixtures, but manager John Brady knows that there are plenty of teams nipping at their heels.
The Virgina-based side won last year’s Senior Championship with a replay victory over Gowna, and they’re under new management this season.
Having spent most of the last five years managing Cavan minor and u-21 teams, Ramor native Brady has thrown his lot in with his home club and so far it can’t have gone any better.
While they’ve won every single game they’ve played, including hard-fought wins over Gowna and neighbours Killinkere in recent weeks, Brady says that player development is one of their main priorities at this stage of the seaosn.
“We’re trying lads in positions they wouldn’t be accustomed to, and giving young lads a chance as well, as we want to ease them into it rather than throwing them into the deep end come championship time. There’s lads away for the summer, they haven’t had that opportunity in the last couple of years, so that’s something we’re managing as well. Sean McEvoy won’t be available for the Championship and he’s a big loss for us,” he said.
It’s rare that Cavan sides successfully retain their Senior Championship title, although Castlerahan, for years the nearly men of Cavan football, managed it in 2018 and 2019. Brady is conscious that recent history isn’t on their side.
“Sometimes teams who win the Championship rest on their laurels and we have to guard against that. Crosserlough are many people’s favourites to win the title, and Cavan Gaels will be up there when they get their county players back. We’re playing Kingscourt in the first round and that’ll be very tough. Gowna have five members of the Cavan u-20 team and a number of them are eligible again next season. To win two in-a-row in Cavan is very tough, it’s a very competitive province and that’s possibly why we don’t tend to do well in Ulster.”
Brady guided Ballyhaise to the Cavan Intermediate title before embarking on a prolonged stint in charge of Cavan underage teams. Most memorably, he led the minors to an All-Ireland semi-final in 2017 where they were undone by a David Clifford-inspired Kerry. Managing his native club is a privilege but it also carries a degree of pressure and expectation, as he acknowledges.
“It’s nice to be back in club football and the whole grassroots aspect of it. It’s a different challenge being with your own club, it’s an honour but there’s added pressure too.”