Thursday 20 September 2018

McVeety desperate for Breffni to realise potential

This is not how Cavan captain Dara McVeety expected it to be. Stock photo: Piaras O Midheach/Sportsfile
This is not how Cavan captain Dara McVeety expected it to be. Stock photo: Piaras O Midheach/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

This is not how Cavan captain Dara McVeety expected it to be.

He is six seasons into his senior inter-county career and he has already had to adjust his expectations since first joining the panel.

McVeety was at the sharp end of things when Cavan's underage teams came to the fore in Ulster, winning four provincial titles in-a-row - a minor success through to three U-21 crowns.

When he came into the senior set-up, he expected to continue in a similar vein. But the translation of that talent has proved difficult.

"There's no doubt about it, it's been a lot harder than I thought," he said ahead of tomorrow night's Division 2 clash with Meath in Kingspan Breffni.

"I was spoiled for choice at underage level. I won a minor and three U-21 medals and thought it was going to happen like that and it just doesn't.

"There is a massive step up to senior and there's no doubt about it we probably haven't progressed the way we should have.

"We have lost a few lads for different reasons who haven't kicked on. It is tough to translate it to senior and we haven't done it.

"There is no point in making excuses, it's time to try and do it. We have a good few lads off those teams and I do feel we are getting better and they are becoming more senior players for us and hopefully in years to come we will get the benefit of that."

McVeety admits there is a significant step up in football and physical terms.

"When you are playing U-21s everyone is that age but at senior you have everyone from 20 to 30 years of age, the best in that county.

"Some teams might get only two or three off an U-21 team but they are the best players.

"It is very tough coming up against the best in that county but before that it was just the best players who were U-21. It's a huge step up and physically too, when you are 21 it's very hard to bully a 25 or 26-year-old, but I think we are adapting and lads are developing physically and hopefully we will be able to kick on a bit."

You have to look closely to see green shoots at senior level. Cavan reached the All-Ireland quarter-final in McVeety's first season in 2013 but haven't really landed a blow in the championship since.

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In fact, they have won just five games in the championship since then, including a single win in Ulster against Armagh. The other four victories came against Westmeath, London, Carlow and Offaly.

The league has been slightly better as they spent a year in Division 1. They beat Mayo away and drew with Kerry and picked up another point but it wasn't enough to keep them up.

"That was definitely the plan (to stay up), we were close enough and ended up getting four points, probably looked like we should have beat Roscommon and then we didn't, we got well beaten.

"We got four points but still deserved to go down. The aim was to stay up, we didn't do that, now the aim is to get back up and if we can do that, stay up."

Division 2 gives manager Mattie McGleenan a little more room to experiment. Cavan fielded 13 debutants on the opening day against Clare while they saw off Louth last time out.

Their last meeting against Meath saw Cavan overturn a seven-point deficit to win in Navan. And McVeety accepts it's a big game for both teams' promotion hopes.

"Both of us are on three points but we only managed a draw against Clare, and Meath had a brilliant performance to comprehensively beat them, so they are flying.

"We got a good result against Louth but both teams will want to get to five points before the little break in the league so it will be a massive game."

Irish Independent

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