McKeever delighted as Gowna end long wait

By Niall Gartland

GOWNA stalwart Mark McKeever is glad that he stuck around for their first senior championship success in two decades.

Sunday’s win over Killygarry was a moment of pure euphoria for the club, bridging a gap of exactly 20 years at this level, and also making amends for the bitter disappointment of losing last year’s final after a replay to Ramor.

It was a first senior championship medal for every single player on the team, bar one man – 38-year-old Mark McKeever, who won previous titles in 1999, 2000 and 2002.

The former Cavan footballer is modest about his own personal contribution but he does himself a disservice as his high standards have never dipped, and now he has another shiny medal to show for it.

“I think this title was going to come at some stage as we’ve had a couple of very good underage teams coming through, but it was just a matter of whether or not I’d be able to hang in there.

“I don’t know how I’m still there but I am – there’s 14 other lads flying around the place and they’re making just enough space for a lad like me.

“The young lads have incredible pace and power and that’s a testament to the lads who I played with back in the day, as they’ve coached them coming through.

“There’s also a lot of other players in the last 20 years who have retired without recognition, but they managed to keep us at senior level, there were times it looked pretty shaky and we had two or relegation matches, but they kept us afloat and that’s been a massive factor in all of this.”

Gowna were full value for their win over senior final first-timers Killygarry, and McKeever said they were going to stop at nothing to get their hands on the Oliver Plunkett Cup, spurred on by the hurt of last year’s defeat to Ramor.

“Once we got through to the quarter-finals, I think that was the main thing and we were very driven and focused on what we had to do. I don’t think it mattered who we played in the final, we just had to win whether it was by one or two points.

“The hurt of last year really focused us, and I think also the young players gained from the experience as it went to a replay against Ramor. The boys got two goes at it last year and I think that stood to us.”

Gowna isn’t a big place – it’s a small half-parish with Mullinaghta on the other side of the Cavan/Longford border. That made their victory all the more special for McKeever and everyone else involved with the club.

“I was very emotional when the final whistle went and I didn’t think I’d be like that. My young lad is three this week and it was very special to see him. I possibly took it for granted in the early years of my career, but now I appreciate every moment I get. It’s a small area, a couple of families really.

“A lot of my current teammates, I played with their fathers, so it’s a delight to be hanging in there. Football is king in Gowna and that’s what families are very much driven by, so this is a very special period for us all.”

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