By Niall Gartland
IT’S undoubtedly one of the biggest clashes in Ulster football this weekend as Crosserlough aim to take down Gowna in Sunday’s Cavan Senior Championship semi-final.
Gowna are the defending champions but needed a replay to surmount the challenge of Laragh in the quarters, while Crosserlough are been like a runaway train and have won all five of their championship games to date, including a top-heavy victory over Ballinagh.
Crosserlough are managed by Jimmy Higgins, who led the team to their first senior title in 48 years in 2020. He isn’t getting carried away with their good form but says that the absence of their county stars during the earlier part of the year may actually have been a blessing in disguise as it allowed him to road-test his panel. Indeed, it was some of their younger players who really stood out in their victory over Ballinagh with youngsters Harry Boylan and Oran Rehill contributing 2-3 between them in a star-studded forward line.
Higgins said: “We’d a few boys away between Cavan seniors and u-20s, we played the league without seven or eight players and that gave the younger lads a chance to shine.
“We’ve had four or five young lads come through in the last two years and maybe we didn’t expect it but it certainly bolstered the thing.”
On their tremendous consistency all season (they won the Division One title), Higgins says that it wasn’t necessarily planned for.
“It’s more or less the way things have panned out for us. With lads away with Cavan, we said we’d take it game by game and training session by training session and the panel developed naturally over time.
“We never targeted anything as such, it’s that we have young lads willing to fight for a spot. We started back quite late as well but we’ve had consistent effort in training and going into match weeknds which has been good.”
Gowna needed a replay to overcome Laragh in the last eight but it’d be foolish to write them off. They weren’t too hot in last year’s group stages but they timed their run to perfection culminating in a polished performance against Killygarry in the final.
Higgins said: “Gowna are champions for a reason, they’ve a lot of good players and an experienced management team. Any team Dermot [McCabe] puts out are going to be well prepared so we’re expecting a good game.
“They’re a good side with good players in every sector. They got to the quarter finals and after that it’s all on the day so they’ll be happy with where they’re at.”