Galligan enjoying time as Breffni boss

By Shaun Casey

IT was in late September when the white smoke rose in Cavan to signify that they’d finally found their man to take charge of the county team after Mickey Graham had stepped aside after five years of service.

Goalkeeper Raymond Galligan retired from playing and traded his goalkeeping gloves and kicking tee for the bainisteoir bib and a whistle, and he is now a couple of months into his managerial career.

Galligan, an All-Star winner in 2020 when he captained Cavan to that now famous Ulster title, has built a strong management team around him which includes All-Ireland winner Stephen O’Neill and former Meath ladies manager Eamon Murray.

The former shot-stopper got to run his eye over the fresh talent coming through the Breffni County during the McKenna Cup and despite losing their two group games to Derry and Down, Galligan will take a lot from the pre-season competition.

“The results are kind of irrelevant this time of year, it’s more just about trying to get a performance,” said Galligan after their three-point defeat to Down. “It was disappointing to lose the game but definitely there’s loads to take from it, loads of positives.

“Obviously there’s lots that we can improve on as well so overall we’re definitely happy with the two games and two great tests and it gives us a good opportunity to work on lots over the next two weeks.

“The McKenna Cup is a great competition and obviously any day that you go out, you go out to win but we’ve unearthed 10 debutants over the last two games, and we’ve got minutes into lads that are coming back from injury.

“It’s been a real good work-out for us over the last two games – 1-15 (versus Down) was a good score, we left lots behind us as well but all in all, we’re definitely happy with the application and the performance from the lads.”

The plunge from player to manager isn’t one that many would concern themselves with straight away, especially at the highest level, but Galligan, who made over 100 appearances in the blue and white jersey, insists the transition has been smooth so far.

“No absolutely not, it doesn’t faze any of us. We’re all really enjoying it and the McKenna Cup has been good to us in regard to trying to see lads and see how they’re applying themselves compared to what we’re doing on the training field.

“It’s been fine, it’s been business as usual over the last number of weeks. We just apply ourselves and we take every training session as it comes. We’ve been getting a good buy-in from the lads so we’re all happy with how things have been going so far.”

Galligan took the reins from Graham, who stepped aside following Cavan’s defeat to the Mourne County in the quarter-final of the Tailteann Cup last season, and the former net-minder learned a lot under his tutelage.

Graham was the man that ended Cavan’s long wait for an Ulster title in that glorious 2020 campaign, bridging a 23-year gap, and he also guided them to promotion in the league, along with a Division Three league title last season.

“Mickey was a great manager so definitely I learned lots from him,” added Galligan, who was Graham’s go-to number one throughout his five-year stint.

“Obviously he’s moved on to Leitrim now so I’m sure he’ll do great things down there because he was a fantastic guy when he was in Cavan.”

Cavan have achieved back-to-back promotions through the league in recent seasons, climbing from the wilderness of Division Four to compete in the second tier this season and Galligan insists that his side are looking forward to the challenge.

They begin their campaign with a difficult away journey to Cullen Park, Carlow to face Glenn Ryan’s Kildare before welcoming Jim McGuinness’ Donegal to Kingspan Breffni for their first home encounter of the series.

Donegal aren’t the only Ulster side Cavan will be weighing themselves up against in Division Two, they also meet Armagh and Fermanagh along the way, although Galligan believes that every team competing at this level will be a difficult assignment.

“You want to be playing the top teams and in Division Two, there’s no easy games so we’ll have the heads down now for the next couple of weeks and we’ll get ready for the first couple of rounds. We have loads to work on so that’s what we’ll be doing.

“Our full focus now is on the league like it is for every other team in Division Two. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who’s in the division because every team is tough, so we’ll just have to take every game as it comes.”

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