Mayo win should bring confidence says Cavan camogie boss Skehan

By Niall Gartland

CAVAN camogie boss Brendan Skehan hopes that the first victory of his tenure will imbue his side with some much-needed confidence as they look ahead to the remainder of their All-Ireland Premier Junior campaign.

Skehan, who managed Meath for the last four seasons, answered the SOS call when things were going particularly bad for Cavan in Division Two in the spring.

They ended up relegated, which was no great surprise all things considered, before losing more recent games in the provincial and All-Ireland series.

But their losing streak came to an end last weekend as they swatted Mayo aside away from home, and Dubliner Brendan Skehan hopes that his players will feel more positive about their chances heading into their final group stage games.

“The girls haven’t won much this year, they’d a tough task in the league before I came on board against teams of the calibre of Derry and Westmeath.

“They’d have struggled with numbers, they lost a lot of girls from last year, so to go and play at a Division Two level was never going to be straightforward. They shipped a few heavy defeats and I think that knocked their confidence as well and that has a knock-out effect in the long run in terms of encouraging girls to be involved.”

They’ve made some progress in terms of performances in recent weeks but have struggled to maintain a consistently high level in games. They have a fortnight’s break before their next game up against Roscommon and Skehan says they’ll use the period wisely.

“We had Laois in the first-round and we stayed with them for 40 minutes before dropping off and that’s become a bit of a pattern, so we need to break the mould on that and we’ve a bit of time to do so.

“We were a lot better against Mayo but we’d be mindful of the quality of opposition. A win is still great to get the confidence going.

“We were meant to have Louth next weekend but they’ll pulled out so we’ll organise a challenge match before the Roscommon game, which will be a real litmust test for us.”

Brendan steered Meath to last year’s All-Ireland Intermediate final, losing after a replay to Derry. He initially intended on taking a year out but felt obliged to give Cavan a dig out as the County Board had already sounded him out before the season had started, and he’s brought with him his coaching partner Anthony O’Neill.

“I had four years with Meath and needed a break and had plans to travel this year.

“Cavan approached me before Christmas and I couldn’t commit during the league, but I was back in mid-Easter and said if they need help to get things back up and running again, hopefully we can make an impression.”

Cavan reached the All-Ireland Premier Junior final in 2020, losing narrowly to Armagh, but Skehan points out that a lot has changed in the meantime in terms of personnel.

“The women’s game is different to the lads, the shape and dynamics of a team can change entirely in a few years.

“In my time at Meath, 60 girls went in and out of the panel for various reasons, lads tend to stick it out a bit longer.

“From the Cavan team of four years ago, only about six or seven are still involved and we have a job to do in terms of making sure all the new players gell together. We don’t have a big bench either, we’re going to these games with 18 or 19 girls max.”

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