Cavan boss Bellew calls for improvement

By Niall Gartland

CAVAN hurling boss Ollie Bellew is hoping to see a marked improvement from his side when they take on Fermanagh in their round two Lory Meagher clash this weekend.

While the Breffni County got their campaign off to a winning start with a four-point win over Warwickshire last weekend, Bellew sensed that they weren’t quite at the pitch of things, especially when contrasted with their stirring performances in Division 3A earlier in the season.

The Breffni County are technically the highest-ranked team in the Lory Meagher Cup as the only team that didn’t field in Division 3B in recent months, but Bellew feels that playing at a higher level didn’t necessarily do them any favours against Warwickshire.

“In theory it should’ve benefited us but in reality it didn’t,” Bellew said.

“In fairness Warwickshire are arguably the team that everyone should be afraid of in the Lory Meagher, they’re very good and it can be difficult against the England-based teams as you never know who they’ve managed to get a hold of.

“It’s been hard for us to keep track of the Lory Meagher teams this year as we’ve played in Division 3A and our ambition heading into the league was to recreate the intensity that we brought to our games against the likes of Sligo and Mayo.

“But in actual fact I felt we hurled at the lowest standard we’ve hurled all year and that’s something we’ll have to forensically assess over the rest of the week.”

Even though they didn’t come up against each other in league hurling this year, Fermanagh are familiar enough opponents and Cavan won’t need reminding that they had a bad day out against the Erne men in the Lory Meagher final three years back, losing by 15 points. Bellew was in charge that day but he recognises that they’ve come on in leaps and bounds in the intervening period and they’re playing at a very high level, reaching the Division 3A semi-final where they lost out narrowly to Sligo.

“We were like rabbits caught in the headlights back in 2021, it was our first time as a county getting to Croke Park, and we only had a seven-day turnaround after our semi-final, it was played in the searing heat and I think we were exhausted after that, so it was a tough lead-in to the final.

“2024 is different to any other season we’ve had and we’ve just dealt with everything as it comes.

“We’re not getting too carried away watching anybody else, we’re just focused on keeping ourselves in order, I feel we’re a disciplined and controlled side and we want to maintain those high standards for ourselves in the championship.”

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