Tough task ahead for Cavan youngsters

By Shaun Casey

AN away day trip to the current Ulster and All-Ireland champions isn’t the most appetising way to begin your championship campaign, but that’s the daunting task ahead of Cavan this weekend as they travel to Derry.

The two sides played each other a couple of weeks ago in the league, at the same venue of Owenbeg, when the Oak Leaf County ran out comfortable seven-point winners.

There are no complaints from the Cavan changing room, but Breffni boss Seanie Smith does point to the long distance his side have to travel.

“We’re in a group with Derry, Armagh and Antrim so we’re certainly looking forward to playing all of them,” said Smith, now in his third season in charge.

“We played Derry recently there in the league semi-final at Owenbeg, it’s a very windy spot up there and we’re back up there now this weekend.

“They got another home draw against us again, but we’ll travel up there and hopefully we can do ourselves justice on the day. It’s a three-hour trip for a 12 noon throw-in on a Saturday.

“The last time we had to leave around seven in the morning to get up there but young lads don’t mind the travel when there’s lots of games and the Ulster Championship is giving us plenty of games which is one great thing about it.”

Cavan featured in three league games and will have at least another four championship encounters before the season is out, which helps develop the players insists Smith.

“I think the games are the important bit at this age,” added the Cavan boss. “I’m sure all of the managers would tell you the same, you can train all you want but for young lads it’s all about getting out and getting to play games.

“I suppose the one thing is that it is a tight schedule for a couple of weeks and the weather isn’t doing anyone any favours at the minute with pitches and everything else and that’s probably the hardest part, but we all want games.”

Cavan were knocked out of last year’s UMFC at the quarter-final stage and can still call on some of last year’s squad. “We’re probably working off around 11 players that are still part of the panel from last year.

“We’ve done that for different reasons, mostly for development so there’s still 11 lads that have stayed with us. In every county there’ll be cycles where players come and go at this year group.

“We had a very solid u-16 panel last year and we brought some of them with us (at minor level) last year and now most of them are the spine of the team.

“You’d hope that the opportunity of being in with the panel last year, that’ll bring them on now this year. We have two lads with ankle injuries at the moment and they’re a little bit more long term but other than that we’re in good health and ready to go.”

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