By Kieran Lynch
CAVAN manager Ollie Bellew is hopeful that a concerted effort at looking to the future pays dividends with the Breffni County achieving promotion this weekend against Leitrim.
Antrim native Bellew managed Cavan previously but took a year’s sabbatical in 2022, and he said that when coming back into the fold this season, he wanted to take things in a different direction, which has so far been working as his side looks to get promoted from Division 3B.
“When we came back in, we wanted to go for a younger age profile for Cavan hurling,” he said.
“We didn’t just want to come in for a quick fix; we wanted to add longevity to the team. Seven members of our u-20 team have been handed a run during the league.
“We weren’t 100 per cent sure how the strategy would work out, but after working with them for a few weeks, we’re fairly confident that things are moving in the right direction.
“Bar one slip up against Lancashire, it has been a pretty comprehensive and worthwhile league campaign.”
Their league campaign got off to a tremendous start, when Canice Maher’s goal saw Cavan claim a surprise win over Longford, and they have been building steadily ever since – whilst also trying to form a bond off the field.
“We’re seeing progress every week,” said Bellew.
“A couple of years ago the team we had were a tight-knit bunch, but this is a new group, so it was a fresh start and we have slowly been coming together as a group.
“Our hurling has been really good, and we have been playing very well, and we’re starting to gel as a group of people now too, so it’s coming together nicely.”
Cavan take on Leitrim in this weekend’s Division 3B final in Abbotstown, and although they already defeated the Connacht side 0-21 to 2-11, Bellew doesn’t foresee that result having too much of an impact on proceedings, come Saturday.
“It doesn’t have too much bearing,” he said.
“Leitrim will be hurting from that defeat and they will want to make amends. We’re doing our own thing, we’re very workmanlike, and we’re keeping our own house in order.
“For us, we just want to find consistency, so we’re not really focused on Leitrim, we’re just focused on ourselves.”
As Bellew said, he wants to develop the future of Cavan hurling, and he believes obtaining promotion on Saturday would be a huge step in the right direction.
“The significance of the game on Saturday is massive for the rest of the county,” said Bellew.
“As a playing group, we just have to treat it like any other game, but if Cavan hurling was to win a national title, it would be only its second in history.
“That would be monumental for everyone; there is a lovely brand of exciting, young hurlers coming through. We hope to get the supporters out, because it’s a big occasion for everyone and having success can only breed more success.”