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I'll take Cavan Gaels back to basics and start building: Canavan

By John Campbell

Peter Canavan has grown accustomed to confronting major sporting challenges.

Whether it was with Errigal Ciaran, Tyrone or Ulster as a player, Canavan's skill, resolve and pride invariably surfaced to propel him to success.

Since entering the sphere of management, the Holy Trinity College, Cookstown teacher has sampled success with Errigal Ciaran and brought Fermanagh into Division Three of the Allianz Football League.

Now, though, Canavan, never one to shirk a challenge either on or off the field, is steeling himself for one of his biggest sporting tests.

Having just taken over at the helm of operations within the fiercely ambitions but patently under-achieving Cavan Gaels club, Canavan has been tasked with delivering an Ulster club title.

Perhaps that demand has not been made in so many words by the Gaels' administration which has succeeded in acquiring his services but make no mistake about it, Canavan will be left in no doubt that it will be a priority.

A side that has won no fewer than eight county titles since 2001 has regularly underperformed on the provincial stage, often pressing the self-destruct button with disastrous consequences as was the case in 2009 when they had no fewer than four players sent off against St Galls in a tension-laden Ulster club tie at Kingspan Breffni Park.

The Gaels club wallowed in anonymity after that while St Galls roared to their first All-Ireland title having been underdogs against their Cavan opponents.

It can be clearly seen that Canavan has a major tactical and psychological battle on his hands but Cavan county board PRO Declan Woods offers the Red Hands icon a measure of comfort as he settles into his new role.

"Obviously winning a Cavan title would be no big deal for the Gaels club. Indeed, the fact that they have not won it since 2011 constitutes a famine, that's just an indication of how their dominance in the county has been taken for granted," says Woods.

"While I think that the arrival of Peter Canavan will add a whole new dimension to the Cavan landscape, he will know that achieving success in Ulster is a burning desire within the Gaels club.

"There is a lot of talent within the side and I am certain that Peter will get the best out of them."

Canavan himself is under no illusions about the difficulty of the mission confronting him.

"We have to go back to basics first and take things from there," stresses Canavan, "What a side has achieved in the past does not guarantee anything in the future."

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