We need to put 'youth' tag behind us - Hyland
Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30
Cavan football can no longer hide behind the mask of youth and must deliver something "major" in the next two to three years.
That's the considered view of their manager Terry Hyland, now only second in terms of longevity on the sideline to Mickey Harte as he prepares for a fifth Championship campaign, including one as joint manager with Val Andrews in 2011.
Hyland's Cavan face Monaghan in their opening Ulster Championship match at Kingspan Breffni Park, a fixture that has traditionally yielded very little.
But Hyland concedes Cavan are "possibly two years" behind their rivals in the context of overall development as a team.
The county's four successive Ulster U-21 titles have given rise to an expectancy that a breakthrough at senior level will come accordingly.
Hyland hasn't sought to dilute that expectancy but questions the time-frame for it to happen.
"Sometimes people forget that some of those U-21s people who had success are only one year out of the U-21 grade," he said.
"Most teams need to evolve around the mid-20 mark. We are not hiding behind the 'young' tag any more and we have to forget about that.
"We are maturing to an age where, in the next two or three years, we need to be doing something major.
"People think that you win U-21 titles and then in three or four years you're automatically senior champions - it doesn't work that way."
Finding a consistent streak has been a priority for Cavan and in this year's League they were happy to consolidate and win as many games as they lost.
But for some, that rate of development just isn't happening quick enough.
"We are quite happy with our progress, we are still making progress and that's the main thing," said Hyland.
"Some people may think it is slow but once it is progress it is always good.
"There is no pressure in Cavan, we have been allowed time to bring these fellas along - provided we are showing improvement.
"As a group we have to look for consistency and that's what we have been getting in the last 12 to 18 months. We need to get that consistency to a level where you don't get the 'yo-yo' factor.
"And if you can get rid of the 'yo-yo' factor and can build on your experience, you can always hope too that one or two more talented players come in from the fringes that we didn't have for that period. We're still building that assembly line."
Cavan have lost a number of key individuals since last season. Captain Alan Clarke has retired while both David Givney and Eugene Keating are unavailable. The promising Turlough Mooney is recovering from ankle surgery, but Killian Clarke is back after missing the second half of the League.
Hyland is not concerned by Cavan's shortage of goals in recent years.
They scored just one in the League, Brendan Fitzpatrick's strike against Westmeath ending a long sequence without one, while they haven't scored two goals in a League or Championship game since the beginning of 2013.
"It would be a concern if we weren't creating the chances. Go back to the League and people will point to the fact that we only scored one goal in the League," said Hyland.
"We created goal chances against Galway, it's not that we aren't creating goal chances, we probably haven't been putting them away, whether that's down to inability on our behalf or bad fortune.
"But for me if you create chances the goals will come."
He disputes that their poor goal record stems from a propensity for defence and the numbers they get behind the ball.
Hyland says the nature of Cavan's forwards is that they must commit numbers to attack.
"I think that's a bit of a myth because if you look at the shape of our team any day it goes out, we have at least three to four forwards," he said.
"Some teams will play with one forward, some teams will play with two. Now they may be different types of forwards. We can't afford to play with one or two forwards up. We need to keep three or four.
"It goes back to our consistency and we need to win games. Whether it's goals that we need to win them with or whether we just need to win them by one or two points, you bank what you get and that's the result."
Hyland has brought in former Mayo player and coach Liam McHale to work with Cavan's forwards and sees that paying dividends.
"He's a fresh voice, I suppose that is an old cliché but he is that. We have been a little bit more attack-minded in some of the drills that we have been doing," he said.
"We have to be conscious again not to concede too much at the back. We have been building a little bit more on that level and we have been creating more movement in the game.
"Possibly some of the teams we have been playing against in the game now have maybe copied what we have done. They have probably got more defensive. So from that point of view Liam has brought that little bit of a difference to us."