THERE is no point in being cautious or guarded about the potential of this year’s Cavan’s u-20s.
That’s the opinion of the manager Damian Donohoe ahead of their opener against Down on Friday night.
Donohoe said: “The potential of this team is to win five games. That’s the way that I am looking at it. I think they really have a great work ethic about them. Mark McKeever is our coach and he did a huge amount of skill work during lockdown.
“He had a lot of innovative ideas of him in front of a wall doing different skills, and getting the lads to replicate and repeat. I think our skill level and our physical level is at a point where we won’t fear anybody. We will go in to any game and we know that if we bring the right intensity then we will be there or thereabouts with anyone in the country.
“We are all afraid to say that we are looking to win the All-Ireland but that is what we are aiming to do. To say anything else would be a lie. You have to ambition and these lads are ambitious. But it is five huge steps and you are going to have to beat five very good teams to get there. But that’s what we want to do and we want to be the first Cavan team to do so.
“The confidence comes from the players’ work ethic. The way they applied themselves to a very difficult and untested period during lockdown. That’s when I saw that they could go out and perform at a high level.”
The confidence is a surprise considering that they are going to be without a handful of players for this Friday’s u-20 match against Down. They are with the county senior team. Yet Donohoe said that the situation has had a positive.
Damian Donohoe said: “It is difficult (not having all the players) but it has been made easier by the players that we have. Their attitude has been second to none. They are really hard working. They are honest. They have come through a very difficult period and that is why it is so good to have the competition going. They have had six or seven months where they have not known if the competition was going to be on.
“I feel sorry for the lads who are with the seniors. It is not their doing, it is not our doing and it is not the senior management’s doing. They would love to be playing with their u-20 county team mates, but they have an opportunity to play at senior level. You can understand it is everyone’s ambition to play at the highest level as possible.”
The squad are not going to have the players who are involved with the seniors who are playing on Saturday. Yet they should be the only absentees. The Cavan team has a number of players who are carrying small, soft tissue, and niggly injuries but nothing that is going to threaten their chance to start.