Gowna binding the generations

EVERYONE associated with Gowna football is counting down the hours to Sunday’s senior championship final against Killygarry, but club chairman Ciaran Brady has a few extra reasons to feel invested in the occasion.

Of course, you have to take into account his position as chairman – but there’s more.

Brady, who won seven championship medals in his playing
days, has two sons (Fionán and Cormac) and three nephews (Aaron, Conor and Ryan) on the Gowna team.

Then by a twist of fate, he has a nephew playing with their championship final opponents Killygarry – Oisin Brady, son of former Gowna stalwart Dessie Brady.

It doesn’t end there either – Brady will also be honoured at half-time as he was part of the Gowna teams that won back-to-back titles in 1996 and 1997.

25 years later, these opportunities don’t come around quite so regularly. Last year’s final appearance was their first since 2007, but they fell short on the day against Ramor. Brady hopes it’ll be a different outcome on this occasion.

“We were spoiled for success between 1988 and 2002.

“We were in nearly every county final in that period but 2002 was our last title.

“It’s great to be back in a county final again, but during the early stages of the championship it was looking extremely unlikely. We’re delighted to be back and we’re looking forward to the day.”

“It’s been 51 years since Killygarry reached the final so whatever happens there’ll be a different name on the cup.”

The Cavan Senior Championship lacked a bit of recognition on the national stage but that has changed in recent years.

It’s one of the more competitive championships in Ulster (there have been seven different winners scattered through the last decade), and the football is generally of a relatively attacking nature. Brady says the television cameras have helped.

“I think the exposure has made a difference. Our semi-final with Crosserlough was broadcast live on RTÉ, and so was the drawn final in 2020 between Crosserlough and Kingscourt.

“Thankfully both games were excellent and it’s raised the profile of Cavan club football.”

Brady and his former teammates will be honoured at half-time of Sunday’s final for their championship triumphs in 1996 and 1997, the club’s first back-to-back success.

He recalls that interest in Cavan football was at an ‘all-time high’ in 1997 after the county won a long-awaited Ulster title.

“From recollection the 1997 championship was ran off quickly, it was a little late in starting after Cavan won Ulster.

“I suppose interest in Cavan football was at an all-time high because of the success of our county team. As a club we were particularly determined to win that title because of the level of interest, and we’d a very strong time in that era.”

Interestingly, they had to play the first-round of their Ulster Club campaign against Down winners Burren because of scheduling issues.

Brady said: “Because the championship was so late in starting, the first round of the Ulster Championship had to go ahead. We were the holders so we were nominated to represent Cavan. Burren beat us in a replay.

“It was unusual but it was just a timing thing.”

Gowna are also in the middle of a major redevelopment at present, and are bidding to finalise the upgrade of their main playing pitch by 2024.

“Our main pitch has been closed for the last three months, the top soil is stripped off and the drainage put in. It’ll be closed again next year and hopefully reopened in 2024.

“It’s a huge development for the club and will give us a fantastic main playing pitch. We’ve spent a lot of money on upgrading our training field as well.

“The next phase will be upgrading the stand facility to provide a dual stand that will accommodate both pitches.

“We’ve a new floodlit track around the training field, a children’s activity centre and the car park has been tarmacked.

“We’ve two new electronic scoreboards and have upgraded the gym facilities. A lot of work has been done over the last number of years.”

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