Knockbride ready for heavyweight tussle

By Niall Gartland

TO the surprise of very few people, Saturday’s Cavan Junior Championship final (Kingspan Breffni, 5.30pm) showdown will consist of Knockbride and Arva.

They were the two big favourites from the starting gun and both have advanced to the final with nary a scratch to be seen.

This may be ‘Junior football’ but Knockbride claimed promotion into Division Two earlier in the season while Arva retained their Division One status, so this has all the makings of a high-quality encounter.

Knockbide are managed by Aidan McBride, who has already led the team to the Ulster Junior League earlier as well as Division Two titles at senior and reserve level.

It’s been one of those seasons where pretty much everything has gone according to plan but they’ll still be disappointed if they don’t end their 23-year wait for championship silverware (they won the Intermediate title in 2000 but haven’t figured at the top end of the championship since).

McCabe said: “We’ve been very very close in the last number of years, reaching a number of semi-finals. We’d been at the business end of things under the previous management led by Larry Reilly but a number of things didn’t fall for them and that happens sometimes.

“So we’re delighted to get to the final, we’d pencilled it in at the start of the year as we want to be improving all the time. We don’t just want to say we got to a championship final, we want to go out and win it.”

While reaching the final in Cavan is a prolonged enough process – they’ve played and won six games until this point – they’ve never been unduly troubled. The thing is, neither have Arva, so it could be some game.

McCabe said: “It would’ve been a bit of a shock to people looking in if either Arva or ourselves didn’t make the final but it isn’t unheard of for upsets to happen.

“We had to guard against that and make sure we went about our business in the right manner.

“We’ve been reasonably happy with our performances, we negotiated the six games fairly comfortably and so have Arva.

“We’ve only been behind for about two or three minutes in the entire championship but it’s likely to be much tougher in the final.”

McCabe attributes much of their success thus far this year to the application of their players, from the nailed-on starters right through to the reserves.

“We’ve a big panel and our reserves have been brilliant and have really stepped it up. They’re at every training session and that’s really lifted the whole quality of training.

“We have 15 v 15 games and that opens up so much of what we’re able to do, we can replicate what we’re going to face in a match. We have boys coming up from Dublin and it’s a testament to them and everyone else, I can’t compliment the boys enough for their commitment.”

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