Cavan hurling manager Ollie Bellew.

Bellew bemoans “off-colour” Cavan as “do-or-die” Leitrim game beckons

Kevin Carney

Conventional wisdom holds that neither manager can ever truly be happy with a draw but the huge sigh of relief breathed by Cavan senior hurling team-manager Ollie Bellew last Saturday told a tortuous tale.

Bellew beats a positive drum with a fervour that few others are unable to match. However, as he departed the bearpit that was Pearse Park last weekend, he couldn't hide his disappointment at the way his side failed to convert a stalemate into a checkmate.

"We were off-colour on the field and off it as well," the Antrim native lamented.

"We played into their hands and didn't perform the way we wanted or needed to and that applies to the management team as well.

"The positive thing from the result is that we're still alive in the competition and still in with a chance of making the final but it's a do-or-die game against Leitrim now this Saturday."

Bellew was again annoyed at Cavan's propensity to be caught on the starting blocks after last Saturday's drawn encounter.

"We're traditionally slow starters and even though we had a big win over Lancashire a couple of weeks ago, it wasn't until the 23rd minute of that game that we really came out of the starting blocks.

"Hopefully we have two more matches (Leitrim this Saturday and perhaps the final) to put to bed our horrendous bad starts.

"We were again flat at the start of the match and it's hard to know why this keeps happening but I hope the fright the lads got will stir them into action from the opening whistle against Leitrim."

Bellew praised the resilience shown by his side in coming back from such a limp start. He acknowledged that some of Cavan's heavy hitters didn't hit were subdued against Longford but he commended the Leinster men for "doing their homework on some of our lads".

"I would have hoped that some of our players on the periphery of the limelight would have raised their game but it didn't happen for whatever reason.

"As a team though, the lads have to look at themselves and approach the Leitrim game without any degree of complacency because, make no mistake about it, we will have to be on top form to come out with a win because Leitrim will be hurting from losing to us in the league and they will want retribution.

"Over the years, Leitrim have had the upperhand on us and it's only a few years ago that they won the Lory Meagher Cup. We didn't match Longford's intensity or hunger and if that happens the next day, we're not going to achieve our objective of making another Croke Park appearance."

Going into this Saturday's final round game at Kingspan Breffni (1pm), Cavan lie in second spot in the table,on the same points (five) as Monaghan but with an inferior scoring difference.Longford lie in third place also on five points but with an inferior scoring difference to Cavan and Monaghan.

Only bottom placed Warwickshire are out of the race for a top two place ahead of this weekend's games. The top two finishers in the table will cross swords in the Lory Meagher Cup final which is set for June 3.

A vocal and strong support on Saturday at Kingspan Breffni (1pm) could well edge Cavan over the line and into another national decider.