'You’re in there today now and you’ve realised that you can compete'


Cavan manager Michael O’Rourke believes his team are improving and becoming more competitive as the season progresses.

“We came in here today well set up, we felt. We competed very well compared to the last time, there was a little spell there in the first half where we conceded four or five points which was the difference in it.

“Still, small little things that the top teams at this level are better at than us - it’s just that retention of the ball and not giving away the ball and taking the right options. At times it fails us and it costs you games but you can’t fault the effort.

“If you work that hard, you have every opportunity of getting a result against Westmeath. It’s a disappointing result but the effort, I don’t think they could have given us much more.”

The leading teams are capable of cutting defences open and stringing together quickfire scores, something Cavan haven’t mastered yet, he said.

“One thing you have to give Down credit for is when they got in there and got the opportunity and shots off, they were scoring whereas we, as you could see during the year and nine points today, we find it hard to consistently get those scores. When you see teams kicking four or five points in two or three minutes, it’s something we haven’t found the ability to do yet.

“But we’re hoping and we’re trying different things and hoping to get that into our game. That’s ultimately the difference, the fact that a team can go up on a day and kick five or six points in a couple of minutes and we find it very difficult to do it.”

Down, he said, are ahead of Cavan in their development.

“It’s something that we’re trying to get to grips with, when you get that turnover, to be able to get up the field. Now you could see that Down come at you in waves and the reality of the thing is they’re probably 12 to 18 months ahead of us in relation to systems and the progress that they’re making and you can see it in them when they’re out there, the trigger is if someone wins a ball that there’s someone out this side running.

“It’s just to get that kind of a continuity within ourselves to know what you’re at at all times on the field, if something happens on the left and I’m on the right, I can move into that position. That’s as much for us to get that message across to the girls as it is for the girls to take it in.

“But look, as we said, there were days we were kind of wondering what direction we were going in but we could walk out of here today and definitely know that you are better than that.

“The reality is, if you were walking out of here today thinking there was no more we can do, it wouldn’t be a great place to be in but you’re still coming out of here against the All-Ireland junior champions and the Ulster intermediate champions and you’re thinking ‘God, if we fix them few little problems, then we’re really competing with them’. So in a funny way, it’s a good enough place to be in. The reality is that they know themselves now that they can compete at this level so we’ll take it from there and see how we get on.”

Cavan will take positives from this match ahead of the next round against Westmeath, whom the Breffni women beat in the league.

"You’re in there today now and you’ve realised that you can compete. You’re looking at Westmeath, I think they were beat in the Leinster final. In theory, are Down a better team than them? They possibly are.

“We know that Westmeath can beat us as well, so we’re under no illusions, in order for us to beat Westmeath we’ll have to match that performance and tidy up a few things but I think it hit home now with the girls in that they put in a big effort today, they put in a good performance today and they’ve realised that it’s just that small thing of retaining the ball that has let them down today and we have fixed nearly everything so if we can kind of sort that out, I think we’ll be very close.

“But you’d fancy that you’ll give Westmeath a good game... The reality is they’re going to fancy playing us as well, if you were to ask them who they wanted to play in that game, they’d want us too but I think we’ll match them for everything.”