By Niall Gartland
CAVAN coach Ryan McMenamin is happy to be back as looks ahead to his second year of involvement at the Breffni County.
After a sustained stint at Fermanagh – first as assistant to Rory Gallagher and then as manager outright – McMenamin had planned on taking a break from the inter-county game when he stepped down at the helm of the Erne County last August.
However, it wasn’t long before he was recruited by Cavan boss Mickey Graham, and he’s enjoying the change of scenery and the challenge of working with new players.
“I enjoyed my time in Fermanagh and I’ll always be thankful for it. I hadn’t planned to go in with Cavan, I was going to take a year out, but when the opportunity came up it was hard to say no.
“It’s a change of scenery and initially brought me out of my comfort zone. It was a bit unusual in a sense working with a set of players who had won Ulster but also found themselves in Division Four, so it was a good challenge to set myself and I’m happy with how things are going.”
In the coming months, the Breffni County will play in Division Three after their short stint in the bottom tier. It’s by no means guaranteed that back-to-back promotions will be achieved given the level of competition.
“Division Three is going to be tougher than it was last year. A lot of counties have got players back and we’ve a few injuries to contend with. Every county involved has the ability to take points off each other, but at the minute we’re just trying to get injuries to clear up and looking ahead to the McKenna Cup.
“We know there’s going to be a kick out of the likes of Down and Tipperary, Fermanagh have the two Cullens back [Che and Lee], Antrim are under new management, so all the counties will want to give it a big push. If you win Division Three you’ll not be in the race for the Sam Maguire which is a bit odd but we’ll give it a go.”
The McKenna Cup is sometimes pinned as a competition of little significance, but McMenamin says that it played a crucial role when he first came onto the Tyrone panel around the turn of the millennium.
“I enjoyed it, I’d some good days and some bad days. I remember playing in a McKenna Cup final and there were only about two people at it, and I remember Cavan beating us in the 2000 McKenna Cup final. It’s hard to believe that was 22 years ago, I’m getting on a bit.
“It was fantastic for me to come in and try to make my way into the Tyrone panel in that era, it gave me a bit of confidence and got me used to playing at county level. It saves us looking for friendlies and it’s competitive as well.”