Midfield pairing “pivotal” for Arva says O’Reilly

By Shaun Casey

ARVA’S midfield duo Ciarán Brady and Tristan Noack Hofman were hugely inspirational in the second half of Sunday’s All-Ireland Junior final and helped the Cavan men carry home the trophy, says manager Finbar O’Reilly.

The Ulster champions trailed by three at the half-time interval, but the midfield pair really kicked into gear in the second half, particularly Brady, and guided Arva over the line.

“In the second half, he was on everything,” said O’Reilly of Brady’s influence. “Break ball, he was in the middle of every turnover, he was breaking kick-outs, kicking scores. I don’t think we would have turned it around without him.

“Him and Tristan at midfield were absolutely pivotal. The energy and the aggression, just the character they showed and that trickled down throughout the rest of the team.

“There’s no doubt those two were a real driving force but everyone else has to step up, they can’t do it on their own. They showed huge leadership, when you get to this in the season, it’s leadership, that’s what you need.

“But they set the tone. The second half, they had a couple of crucial turnovers, a couple of crucial kick-outs turned over, and that, I think, edged it in our favour and everyone else rowed in behind. They definitely set the tone, led by Ciaran no doubt.”

A couple of “choice words” at the half time interval helped to turn things around as well. O’Reilly’s side began to press up on the Listowel kick-outs and that added incentive turned things around in the second period.

“There were a few choice words at half time, there’s no doubt about that,” added O’Reilly. “We really pushed up hard on their kick-outs, they were getting out too easily, we weren’t finishing attacks and we put that clear to them.

“We definitely raisde the temperature a little bit and it was now or never. We’re not playing well, we’re not performing, it’s time to step up and that happened.”

While it’s a dream come true for the men from the Breffni County, O’Reilly and his team had belief that they were good enough to go all the way, inspired by the events of 2022.

“They lost the Junior final in Cavan last year by a point to Drumlane,” explained the Arva boss. “Drumlane went to the Ulster final and lost to Stewartstown and Stewartstown came into Croke Park last year and could have beaten Fossa.

“So Arva would have felt that they were close to that, but we had some battle on our hands getting out of Cavan with Knockbride, Knockbride are a serious team, but we knew if we got out of Cavan, we’d have a chance at Ulster and then who knows after that.

“We just took it one game at a time and it’s easy to say this when you’re in this position but they’re an absolutely terrific bunch of men. They’re so easy to coach, no nonsense with them and the support staff, the chairman, so, so supportive, really good GAA people.”

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