Hard work key component for new-look Cavan ladies

By Niall Gartland

CAVAN ladies manager Micheál O’Rourke is delighted with the application of his players as they ready themselves for their third-round league clash against an imperious looking Kildare side this weekend.

It’s O’Rourke’s first season at the helm and it’s already been challenging in one respect as the vast majority of last year’s team have decided to move on between travelling and college commitments.

In a sense it forced his hand as a glut of new players have come on board out of necessity, but their youngsters have acquitted themselves extremely well and picked up their first league win at the second time of asking with a deserved victory over Laois last weekend.

It doesn’t get any easier as they face last year’s All-Ireland Intermediate champions Kildare in their next outing, but the Breffni girls will no doubt approach the game with vigour and enthusiasm under their new management team spearheaded by O’Rourke.

“We had a panel of 44 girls last year and we retained five of them. An awful lot of girls stepped away so there’s a massive transition.

“We’ve had 16 girls already in the league who have played their first inter-county games. On our first day out we started 11 girls who hadn’t played inter-county football before and we blooded five subs as well.

“The girls leaving has probably opened up an opportunity that wouldn’t otherwise have been there for a lot of our newcomers.

“It’s small steps but they’ve taken the opportunity with both hands and it’s a big bonus for us that we got a win against a strong Laois team.”

O’Rourke’s main experience is in managing men’s teams in Cavan and Meath but his management set-up isn’t lacking in know-how when it comes to the ladies scene in Cavan. The team includes Gerry Charters who has been involved at all levels of underage football in the county, Paul Cahill who managed Crosserlough to a Cavan Ladies Senior Championship and Martin Tackney who was at the helm of the Ballyhaise team that won last year’s Intermediate Championship.

They’ll need to put their heads together if they’re to get the better of table-toppers Kildare, but O’Rourke says that first and foremost they’ll be looking to their players to put in a good shift, and he’s sure that’ll be the case.

He said: “I could be wrong here but someone has said to me that Kildare are on unbeaten run stretching back to the start of last year’s league, they won Division Three and won the Intermediate Championship as well.

“They’ve had a good start and I saw the All-Ireland Intermediate final last year and there’s definitely plenty of quality there.

“I think we’re at a level where we’ll have to be right at the top of our game to compete with the best teams in the division.

“That’s the approach we’re taking, that if we do produce our best, we can be a match with anyone.

“We can try to solve problems on the line but the first thing we’re prioritising is hard work and that’s what we’re definitely getting from the girls, there’s a big push on at the moment.”

Meanwhile, in the other ladies games involving Ulster teams this weekend, Armagh are bidding to make it three wins from three when they host a Galway searching for their first victory of the campaign while a close contest is expected between Donegal and Westmeath in Letterkenny.

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