Cavan club Lavey have made great progress in the last few years, and they’re determined to get even better in the future
IT’S an exciting time for all involved with Cavan club Lavey. They’re going ahead with the redevelopment of their clubrooms – Pandemic be damned – and it’s certainly not for the sake of it.
Lavey has hundreds of playing members, so two dressing rooms simply isn’t enough to accommodate everyone.
Chairperson Damien Tynan explained: “We are in the middle of a major development at the minute. We’re developing state-of-the-art dressing rooms with four dressing rooms and a disabled dressing room, showers and toilets, a meeting room upstairs and a kitchen.
Speaking last Friday, he said: “It’s 5000 square feet in all. We’ve got the steel standing there and the blocks are starting this week.
“I have to say that a lot of the funding comes from our Club Lavey members. It was set up two years ago and is a fiver per week through direct debit and is working really well.
“That’s what’s coming in constantly on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” he added.
“We’re moving from two old dressing rooms to a brilliant facility which will facilitate something in the region of 330 kids, a senior ladies team, and a senior men’s team. We worked out of the two dressing rooms since 1980 and the way the things have moved on in numbers, we just ran out of space and we had to do something.”
Lavey have already hosted a big senior championship clash this year – a first-round clash between Kingscourt and Lacken – and they’re more than happy to host this week’s Junior clash between Denn and Knockbride.
Tynan said: “The Kingscourt match went well. There were plenty of stewards there to help out, and that’s something we’ve always had.
“Things went smoothly enough. One of the teams togged out at one part of the stand and the other guys were at the other side under a marquee. It’s not straightforward but it’s a difficult time.
“That was the first big one of the year and we’re always happy to host championship matches no matter what the level.”
have a plan
LAVEY have done exceptionally well at underage level in recent years. They reached last year’s Division Two final at minor level, and have been promoted to Division One.
They’re churning out plenty of senior players – they’re hoping that an average of five players from minor level step up to senior level each year until 2023. That’s a considerable number while also ensuring that more experienced players are there to show those youngsters the ropes.
Basically, they’re leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to dine at the very top table in Cavan, while their coaches also did sterling work in keeping players interested during lockdown.
LAVEY fans won’t need to be reminded of the significance of 1951. It’s the only year in their history that they’ve won the Cavan Senior championship, and while it is almost seven decades ago, that doesn’t dilute its importance. Possibly the most famous member of that team – Johnny Cusack – died earlier this year at the age of 92. It’s pretty noteworthy as well that they won their first Junior Championship the year previous.
MORE than two decades had elapsed since Lavey’s famous senior championship triumph when they won the Junior title in 1975. Even though they were playing at a lower level, 1975 was a great year all-round as they actually won the league and championship double. Players on that team included former Cavan goalkeeper Jimmy Galligan, John Joe Maguire, Tony Smith, Tommy and Francie Franey, Owen McConnon, Dessie King and Mattie Kearns.
WHAT a year this was for Lavey. Not only did they win their first ever Cavan Intermediate championship, defeating Cootehill in the final, but they made it all the way to the Ulster final where they were defeated by eventual All-Ireland winners Cookstown. Having lost the Cavan final in 2007, it was great to make amends, and they haven’t dropped out of the senior championship ranks since.
Pushing towards a championship
While Lavey is a club with a proud history, they don’t dwell much on past glories.
Chairperson Damien Tynan says that everything they do is with the future in mind, and who knows – maybe in the none-too-distant future they’ll finally bridge a seven-decade gap without a senior championship title (their sole victory coming in 1951).
They really made their mark in the championship in the last four years under manager Kevin McConnell. Two semi-final and two quarter-final appearances shows just how competitive they have been. Tynan is confident that their new management team will continue the good progress made.
“Kevin was there for four years. In his reign we did very well in the championship in particular, and I suppose like every other club when you go on the hunt for managers you’re getting guidance from the more senior people in the club.
“We spent a good bit of time interviewing and came up with two good guys in Barry McLoughlin and Jason O’Connor.
“They’ve put in a very good structure from before Christmas with strength and conditioning work, and they were out on the field for a few weeks before Covid struck.
“They kept players working at it constantly on an individual basis over the lockdown, so they’ve a good structure in place.
“It’s their first year in the club and nobody really knew them but we’re really pleased with them and they have a good way with players.”
While Lavey are all about ensuring the senior team is well-stocked with younger players, it’d be remiss not to mention their club stalwarts. Joey Jordan is in his late 30s now, and was part of the team that won the Intermediate Championship in 2009, while Chris Conroy, Gerry Smith and Paul GIlcreesht are part of the Cavan panel. Tynan says they tend to do so well in the championship for a reason.
“Whatever it is about Lavey, they can start off slowly but the longer they’re in the championship the harder and more aggressive they get.
“We still have stalwarts like Joey and Chris – Joey was a major player in 2009 and is still playing in defence. Chris is a massive part of our club as well – nothing’s ever a problem for him, you just need to lift up the phone and he’ll be there to help.
“They’re known for it, they’re never beaten until the final whistle and that’s probably why we’ve been reaching semi-finals and the like.
“The way the game has gone with training and nutrition, it’s a big commitment, not just for Lavey but for every club.
“These guys would die for each other. They’re involved in underage coaching and they’re an easy, relaxed bunch of lads to get on with.”
Keeping the show on the road
A large group of volunteers devote countless hours on the upkeep of the club. There’s chairman Damien Tynan, vice-chairman Mark Donohoe, Treasurers Eamonn Flood and Liam Sheridan, secretary Cecila Smith, PROS Noel Brady and Marie Glennon, and the club’s project development officer Terry Smith.
Tynan also gave special mention to the former committee memories who are always there to help out, while it’d be remiss not to mention Mickey Kavanagh, who does such great work keeping the grounds in good nick.
“Lavey stalwarts like John Joe Maguire, Phil Smith, Paddy Reilly, Joe Kearns…there’s another Phil Smith and another Paddy Reilly, they are the lifeblood of the club.
“I believe that a club cannot function without people like that on board – people who are always there to give advice and to help out with matches and so on.”
He also made a point of thanking Club Lavey for all their support, as well as all those involved with the thriving Ladies’ scene in the club.
“We’ve a huge number of Club Lavey members who help support our redevelopment. Bingo hasn’t been played since mid-March due to the pandemic, but our Lotto and Bingo help maintain the club grounds as well. I’d also like to thank our sponsors and all those who have sponsored us down the years.
“There’s a massive Ladies structure in the club as well. We work side-by-side and we’re lucky there’s a training pitch and a main pitch. They’re doing brilliantly at underage and reached the Ulster final in 2019. They’ve also got a great committee.”
A tough year
Lavey stalwarts laid to rest
UNFORTUNATELY, it’s been a difficult season for Lavey with four of their best club members passing away.
Johnny Cusack, who is described as ‘the biggest idol in the history of the club’ died in July. He was part of the 1951 Senior Championship winning team, trained the 1975 Junior Championship winners, and captured an All-Ireland title with Cavan. He also represented Ulster at a time when the Railway Cup was in its pomp.
Seamus Smith, a former club chairman and treasurer also passed away, while Michael Nelson, a fantastic community man, died in June.
Tragically, one of the club’s most talented youngsters, Sean Reilly, died of cancer earlier in the year as well. He was only 13 years of age.
Tynan said: “He’d won everything he could from U-10 up to U-12 and was moving up to U-15 level.
“He was so determined, he trained until a month before he died. He had cancer and had beaten it but it had come back. It’s been difficult for everyone, especially the kids, and he had a big career ahead of him.”