Monaghan success 'benchmark' for Cavan - Keating
STAR Cavan forward Eugene Keating insists that Monaghan's Ulster title success last year has laid down the template for the new season.
Keating wants the Breffni men to follow in their neighbours' footsteps - the Farney men earned promotion to Division 2 in the league before emerging from the pack to annex provincial honours last year.
Cavan have seen steady improvement in recent seasons, tasting provincial success at minor and U-21 level, and reaching the All-Ireland quarter-finals last year.
They were sent through the back door by Monaghan after a one-point defeat in the Ulster semi-final, and Keating says the Farney men's subsequent provincial success has given his side renewed belief.
"You see how well Monaghan did against Donegal last year and fair play to them, they had a great run," he said.
"That's what we want to do, we look at Monaghan as a benchmark and try to improve to get as good as them and even better, and then get to Ulster finals and kick on from there."
Keating added to his burgeoning reputation last Sunday, landing six points from play in a man-of-the-match display in the McKenna Cup semi-final. The St Sylvester's clubman plays a crucial role in winning primary possession for Cavan, but with their preference for playing deep, he can often find himself isolated.
"There are not as many people up front and it just means that you have to work harder, make the runs and you will get the ball when you get into the right positions. Thankfully, I am getting really good ball in," he said.
"I am growing into my position. I feel a lot more comfortable and a lot more confident now. But with all these U-21s coming through, I will have to keep upping my game."
Keating is determined to atone for the side's below-par performance in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final. Cavan were all but out of the game against Kerry in Croke Park at half-time as they trailed by 0-11 to 0-2 but the 24-year-old insists they will improve for the experience.
"We showed in the second half that we were able to compete against Kerry. The first half, we were in awe of them and maybe just a bit stupid in that we didn't know what we were doing," he said.
"It took us a while to get into the swing of things. We have had ambition for the last couple of years and now it is a case of achieving it."