By Shaun Casey
OFF the back of a second three in a row of championship titles in the last decade, Cootehill are aiming to now make their mark on the provincial scene.
The Cavan county champions overcame East Cavan Gaels at the start of August to retain the title and this weekend, 12 weeks on from lifting silverware over their heads, they embark on another Ulster Championship campaign.
Last year didn’t go to plan once they exited the Breffni County as their opening round clash with Armagh representatives Sean Treacy’s proved to be a one-sided affair.
However, manager Michéal Boyle, in his first year in charge, is keen to go one step further than 2022.
“That’s our second time in recent years (winning three Cavan championship in a row),” said Boyle ahead of Sunday’s clash with Armagh champions Killeavy (Kingspan Breffni, 1.30pm).
“There was a change of management this year so this is only our first year so we’ll not be taking credit for the three in a row but hopefully we can continue on from that and maybe it’s the start of bigger and better things to come.
“It would have been the target; we did have that target because any new management team coming in here, you have to improve on last year or at least do the same so at least we have that monkey off our backs.
“Going forward we’d be hoping that on Sunday, we’ll be giving it our very very best shot and hopefully we’ll come out on the right end of the result.”
Boyle is expecting a better showing from his Cootehill charges than last year’s 5-12 to 1-12 hammering at the hands of Sean Treacy’s.
He believes that the commitment shown by his players this season means they’ll be able to give a better account of themselves.
“We played Sean Treacy’s last year and the way things worked out, to be honest with you, I think the boys were a bit shell shocked because coming towards the closing stages of that game, the score didn’t really reflect on how the game really went,” he said of last year’s exit.
“I think we actually ran out of steam so I think that would have been a lot of it and I’m hoping that with the commitment that we’ve got from the lads this year, it seems like we’ve took that monkey off our back.
“We have more commitment now than we would have probably had in previous years.”
They’ll also have home advantage as they welcome Killeavy to the familiar surroundings of Kingspan Breffni, but Boyle won’t be counting on that comfort to impact the game and his men certainly won’t be taking anything for granted.
“We had home advantage last year so it’s really hard to know what way to look at it,” added Boyle.
“It probably should be an advantage but ideally, we’ll take the idea of Breffni out of our head and pretend that it’s Cootehill pitch that we’re on and go from there.”