A change in approach for Breffni boss Bellew

By Niall Gartland

CAVAN hurling manager Ollie Bellew has decided to do things a little differently this year as they gear up for their first ever Division 3A campaign.

The Breffni hurlers get the show on the road away to Sligo on Saturday week, but they haven’t been spending months and months grafting on the training pitch.

St Gall’s man Ollie Bellew, who has been in charge of the team four years in total (he took a year’s break in 2021), says that he’s mindful of player burnout and therefore assembled the team later than usual.

He’s also working with a smaller panel this time around, but he hopes that the changes will serve to benefit the team rather than hinder them.

Bellew said: “We’ve a much smaller panel this year which has filled us with apprehension and anxiety throughout the winter because it only takes a bit of illness or a few injuries before you’re in real trouble.

“But we did it for a very specific reason – we wanted to make a really concentrated effort this year on what we’re doing so we thought we’d invest all our work into a smaller number of players.

“We also started very late, some of our lads are footballers who were involved in a provincial campaign with Cootehill while Stephen Sheridan plays for Arva who ended up winning the All-Ireland.

“I know from previous experience that if you start too early it can be very easy to burn out, so we’re taking a few chances with things and we’re only starting to find our feet now.”

The ultimate goal is the Lory Meagher Cup. Cavan have never won the competition though they made the final only a few short years ago where they fell short on the day against Fermanagh. To that end Bellew believes the league should prove a useful exercise.

“We’re going to enjoy playing in Division 3A, this is our first crack at it and we’re not going to worry about it too much, we’ll probably be most people’s favourites to go down but we’ll do our best and hopefully pick up a point or two and stay up.

“We’re really focused on the championship, the Lory Meagher has been the dream in Cavan for a long time. We’ll build ourselves towards it and hopefully playing at a higher level in the league than in previous years will stand to us.”

And on a personal level, Bellew knows the strain of the long journey of Belfast to Cavan and back again but he believes it’s completely worth the time spent on the road.

“It’s coming around again and sometimes it can be hard to get into the car and go down the road, but once you’re there, you’re reminded of why you do it.

“They love the game so much that when you get there, you’re immersed in their enthusiasm, they’re just a brilliant bunch of players to be around.”

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