by Paddy Hickey
Cavan football boss Mattie McGleenan has warned that his charges will have to step up on their performance against Down to overcome Roscommon in Sunday's top-of-the-table Division Two clash at Dr Hyde Park.
Playing at home last Saturday, the Breffni men increased their points tally to nine out of a possible 10, but they had endure some anxious moments before putting the Mourne County to the sword on a 0-17 to 0-14 scoreline.
At half-time, the visiting side led by 0-7 to 0-6, and with just five minutes of normal time remaining the adversaries were deadlocked at 0-13 each before the home outfit consolidated their position with a late scoring surge.
"If Down had been a little more clinical in front of goal, we could have well been behind, instead of in front, at the final whistle," said the former Tyrone star forward, whose side's lone dropped point occurred in the first round tie against Clare at Cusack Park.
"But thankfully (goalkeeper) Raymond Galligan made two or three fantastic saves and that was a huge factor in our winning of the game.
"As well, we had huge displays in the last five minutes from Gearoid McKiernan (scored four points overall) and from Conor Bradley (scored two points) who had come on as a sub.
"So I feel that we will have improve on the way we played against Down if we are to get anything out of the game against Roscommon."
And commenting on the quality of the opposition, the Cavan supremo added: "It's going to be a very difficult game for us as Roscommon are a very formidable side.
"They had a good win over Clare in Ennis last Sunday, they are the reigning Connacht champions, and they had a very comfortable win over us when we played them in last year's League at Dr Hyde Park.
"We're obviously in a very encouraging position in the table, but we have nothing won yet, and we're under no illusions about the tough nature of Sunday's game.
"So it's a huge game for both sides, and which teams go up to Division One and which teams stay in Division Two in next year's League will be determined by how we do against Roscommon and in our final game against Tipperary on Sunday week.
"At the start of the League we set ourselves a target of winning all our home games. We are very pleased that has worked for us so far and hopefully that pattern will continue on Sunday," added McGleenan, who is in his second year in the Cavan hot seat.
A concern for the participant in the 1995 All-Ireland final loss to Dublin, however, is that ace defender Killian Clarke may be ruled out of contention for the showdown against Kevin McStay's charges because of a hamstring injury.
"We selected Killian for the Down game, but after doing the pre-match warm-up, we decided not to start him because of his hamstring problem, and he just came on for the last few minutes," the Cavan boss explained on the Shercock clubman.
"And as things stand, Killian could also be ruled out of the Roscommon game.
"Killian is one of the 15 lads in our panel who are based in Dublin, and that means that they're regularly sitting in their cars for up to four hours on their trips to and from our training sessions.
"So it's not surprising that fellas like Kieran experience problems with their hamstring from time to time."
Conversely, on the credit side for McGleenan is that midfielder Liam Buchanan and forward Padraig Moore have resumed training in the wake of long-term injuries sustained in club fare.
"The two lads are great to have around and they will be strongly challenging for places in the panel of 26 for Sunday's game," he pointed out.