Determination and hard work key for 'Gunner'
When the pressure came on as Kildare tried to eat into Cavan’s lead in this high-stakes National League opener, the Breffni men stood tall – and none shone brighter on the day than Killian Brady.
The experienced Mullahoran man, who is well into his second century of appearances, had a superb game in the full-back line and he felt the win was just reward for the players and management for all the hard work they have put in on the training field.
“It’s hard going on the road, especially going to Carlow, it is tough, it’s a long drive. But when you’re coming down with confidence that you have the work done, it’s nice to back it up and get the win,” stated ‘the Gunner’.
“You know what this division is like, it’s only one game. Every team has the ability to beat every other team so this is only one win, we’ll see what the next few games bring.”
Asked what was the key to the win, Brady said: “You probably saw it yourself there, just determination and hard work, especially from the front three or four lads. It’s the way the game is gone, you have to work no matter what area of the field you’re in.
“They make it a hell of a lot easier for us in the full-back line. We were just chatting at half-time, myself, Jason and Oisin, the quality of the ball coming in wasn’t that great because of the pressure that was going on out the field and that makes our jobs a hell of a lot easier.
“That bit of being connected, lads knowing their job, pressure on the ball and hard work. Ray only ever asks that if you do that, you do your best, you’re not going to be too far away, and you saw that today.
“The game is developing every year and as defensive as it is, it’s still a man-on-man game. You defend as a unit and then you attack as a unit.
“I think that’s the way it goes, an awful lot of counter-attacking football and when you turn the ball over high up the field, you have everyone up there so it becomes a man-on-man game again. It’s just the way the game has gone, every team is trying to beat the best and without trying to copy them, you put your own little stamp on it and working as a unit is kind of the foundation of what we’re doing there.
“As I said there, you’re expecting your full-forward line to work as hard as the lads around the middle. That’s probably why it looks like a defensive game, they’re tracking their man.”
Cavan played the likes of Dublin and Kerry in challenge games and Down and Derry in the McKenna Cup and while they didn’t pick up wins, there were signs, Killian felt, that they were beginning to implement the things they had been working on.
“It’s unusual, we could see evidence of learning and evidence of what it is we’re trying to do but without getting the result. We have experience in the group of knowing that the league is what matters at the moment so you’re using those challenge games and the McKenna Cup to look for evidence of learning.
“It was definitely there and that gave us confidence coming down the road. That’s why it was so important to get the win there today, you get into a losing streak and it’s hard to keep pushing the message ‘you’re learning here, you’re developing and you’re doing well’ so getting the win was hugely important and it was great to back up that what we’re doing at training, we’re starting to see on the field on match day.”
The players were clearly fired up and wanted to get their manager’s tenure off to the best possible start.
“The dynamic hasn’t changed much, Ray’s the manager and that’s it. I suppose he has been involved in the playing side of things, he was our captain last year and he’s coming in giving it the exact same amount of effort that we are, you know where his heart is, and that helps when you’re going out to play for a manager. It definitely does.
“He knows exactly what we have to offer, he’s been in that circle. It’s now or never for a few of us, we’re coming to the twilight of our careers, we’ve had so much heartbreak over the years… you’ve lost big games, tight games. I suppose they had their purple patch there and we responded quite well I thought.
“Dara (McVeety) is back there and he had a slow pre-season carrying an injury, it’s great to see him getting through it, he was excellent when it was in the melting pot, when we needed someone to get on the ball or break a line.
“Ciaran (Brady) coming back in as well, you need that. In the slow plays it can look boring and then one line break and you’re in the scoring zone. That’s stuff we’ve definitely worked on and it’s great to see it coming out on the field.”
Behind Brady in goals was Liam Brady, who was in the difficult position of being the first player outside of Galligan to play in goals in the league since 2018.
“He was excellent, delighted for Liam. It wouldn’t have been easy, or for Gary (O’Rourke), riding shotgun to Ray but I’m sure they’ve learned loads off him. Ray has been in that circle last year so he knows exactly what the boys are about.
“It’s going to be very hard for him picking his goalie every week but the two lads, you’d have no doubts about either of them, they’ve learned lots from Ray, learned lots over the years. As I say, I’m delighted for Liam today, he’s bided his time and he got his chance today and he will be hard shifted now in fairness to him.”