By Niall Gartland
THE Cavan ladies form-line has changed for the worse after a blistering start to the season, but manager Gerry Moane says the strength of their opposition has to be taken into account.
They won all three of their group stage matches in the league, including a surprise victory over this weekend’s All-Ireland Championship opponents Armagh, but they haven’t picked up a win in the intervening period.
Their latest defeat came in their All-Ireland Championship opener against Mayo, but it was close and their manager Moane still feels there’s plenty of cause for optimism.
“You have to give credit to the opposition.
“We probably didn’t do ourselves justice in our league semi-final against Meath, but that happens in football.
“The games are coming thick and fast but that wasn’t one of our better days in fairness. We’ve lost to Donegal and Mayo since then but that’s not to say that we aren’t improving.”
Cavan produced a brave performance in their first championship outing against Mayo at the weekend, but the final scoreline read 1-18 to 0-15 in the Connacht girls’ favour.
“You’re never happy when you lose a football match, but when I look back and reflect on the game, it was small things that made the difference.
“They got 1-4 without reply at one stage and the goal was a key score. Once a team like Mayo gets ahead like that, it’s very hard to claw it back.
“We won the second half 10-9 but the damage was done after the water-break in the first half.”
It’s left them playing catch up ahead of their final group stage matches against Armagh and Monaghan.
Also worth mentioning is that there are four teams in total in their group, so there’s statistically less chance of progressing than in the other three-team groups.
“It’s a difficult group, there’s no question about that.
It’s not really ideal that there’s three Ulster teams either but that’s the nature of the draw, especially as there are five Ulster teams in the Senior Championship. In groups of three you could win one match and make the quarters, but that’s out of our control.”
The Fermanagh native also knows it’ll be difficult to overturn an in-form Armagh side, even though they did the business against the Orchard county with a narrow victory in the league.
It has to be remembered that Armagh didn’t seem to be at full pelt during their Division Two campaign, and got off to a flyer in the championship with a big win over Monaghan last weekend.
“They’re the form team in Ulster and they’ve had massive wins lately against Tyrone and Monaghan. No-one can take away from what they achieved last year, winning Ulster and giving it a rattle in the All-Ireland.
“They’ve been building and have all their players back so it’ll be a massive task for us in Clones,” the Breffni boss added.