Donohoe aiming high with U20s

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Newly-installed Cavan U20 manager Damien Donohoe has hit the ground running in his role.

The Drumalee clubman began working with a panel of over 70 players training individually which has since been cut to 45 after a range of tests were completed.

The U20 competition will throw in in March and will be run on a knock-out basis with no safety net and for Donohoe and his management team, the hard work begins now.

“I’m delighted with the back-room team, it’s as good as I could have asked for,” Donohoe told The Anglo-Celt.

“The selectors are Padraig Dolan, who is going to be head of analysis, Mark McKeever and Peter McGinnity. Obviously Padraig comes with an unbelievable CV, he was with Leitrim seniors the last two years, Cavan seniors and U21s before that.

“He brings a huge knowledge and experience of that successful U21 era with Cavan.

“Mark is in as coach. What he brings is an unprecedented level of inter-county experience, he played 13 years at senior for Cavan and five years of U16, minor and U21. He has huge experience and longevity which is huge, we want these guys to go on and play for 10 or 12 years with Cavan.

“Peter is goalkeeping coach and third selector. Played county minor and U21 and he is a really deep thinker about the game, he’s quiet and unassuming but when he speaks, he speaks sense.

“Terry Hyland is in as an advisor overall, he will be on the end of the phone and will be available to give us a dig-out when he’s available.

“PJ Clarke from Killinkere is co-ordinator, Sean Óg Brady from Mullahoran is coming in on analysis. Caoin McCabe from Denn is our kit man and we have other roles that are being filled as we go along.

“André Quinn is over strength and conditioning and the work he does is just phenomenal.”

Donohoe believes he will have a strong panel to choose from and he is ambitious about the team’s prospects.

“I did a presentation about how I’d like to do the role of Cavan manager at U20 level. Some of the things that were important for me was what was the over-arching role.

“I started off the interview by saying that I don’t just want to be Cavan manager, I want to be a successful Cavan manager. If the opportunity for me to be Cavan manager is there but I don’t see the opportunity for success, I don’t want to go for it – give it to somebody who will see the opportunity for success.

“That’s where I was coming from as a base. There’s an honour in getting the job but there’s no point in being there just to say ‘I am Cavan U20 manager’. The aim is to go out and be successful.

“There are steps there to achieve that success and there are barrriers there and we have to be aware of these things.”

Asked about his management style, he said: “I take a huge amount of time and effort to try to facilitate the players where possible in any way. I personally believe it’s a balance, the more of my time I give to them, the more of their time they will give to me and to the team and the over-arching goal that we have.

“For me, it’s very much about letting them know that if they need anything, I’m there. Building up a relationship so that they know they can pick up the phone and have a conversation, trying to make sure that the players are happy. I believe a happy player is a good player.

“There is a balance in that, you can’t be their best friend. They’ve got to understand that you’re going to have to make some tough decisions that they may not agree with but there will be honesty and thought behind the decision.

“The goal is that the team has success and if that means somebody doesn’t make the 15 or the 26, that’s part of it. I want players to say ‘what can I do to get Damien to put me on this team’.

“I don’t think I have a style of play as such but I love attacking football. I love to see bravery on the field. All too often we think of that as a lad who will throw his head in where you wouldn’t put your foot and that is brave but I mean bravery to get on the ball after making a mistake or the bravery to identify a game situation where the team needs a score, ‘I’m going to go forward, even if I’m a defender, and help the team’.

“The willingness to go and try to have an effect on the game is what I really love in players. I don’t like negative players, I want the lads who are willing to roll their sleeves up, work for the team and figure out what they can do to help the team and my role as manager is to facilitate them to become that type of player.”

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