By Niall Gartland
CAVAN boss Seanie Smith says they are gunning for the ‘kingpins’ of Ulster Minor footbal when they host Tyrone in Saturday’s Ulster Championship opener.
Ultimately the result is fairly immaterial due to the group stage format which will see all the teams in their particular group advance to the quarter-finals, but Mullahoran clubman Smith says they have no interest in sleepwalking through the early stages of the competition.
Talking up the Tyrone challenge ahead of the game – and with some justification given the O’Neill County’s strong record at minor level both historically and in more recent years – Smith commented: “We met Tyrone in the Ulster League, they beat us by nine points in the end up but it was a very good game up in Garvaghey, the facilities are excellent there.
“Tyrone are the kingpins of Ulster and that’s who we’re coming up against but we’ll give it our best shot.
“Obviously there’s a new group stage format and we’ll all go through to the last eight but we’re going to approach every game as an important championship game as it’s crucial to get momentum going.
“We’re looking forward to it and the amount of games should help the development of our players.”
Cavan players to watch out for include their captain Aaron Shekelton, Ben Tully and Ben O’Hara, three really promising talents.
Their u-20s, who had done so well in 2022, losing by a single point to the eventual All-Ireland champions Tyrone, bowed out of the Ulster race a fortnight ago with defeat to Monaghan, so in a sense the minors are now flying the flag for the county at underage level for the coming weeks.
“That was a narrow defeat for the u-20s. At different stages it looked like Cavan were going to kick on and win it but fair play to Monaghan, they dug deep and got the win.
“It was disappointing but we [the minors] are hoping we can do well and who knows how it’ll all pan out in the knock-out rounds, we’re certainly feeling optimistic of doing well.”