By Niall Gartland
DENN have an All-Ireland Junior Championship quarter-final against St Brendan’s, Manchester coming up in a week’s time, but their captain Bernard Gaffney says they weren’t too puritanical over the festive season. It’s only a couple of weeks ago that the Cavan club earned a fully deserved Ulster final victory over Downings of Donegal. They celebrated that victory with gusto, and it wasn’t as if they totally stepped back over the Christmas period either.
These things don’t come around too often, after all – it’s only the third time a Cavan club has won an Ulster title, and while it’s been well-documented at this stage, it’s still worth flagging up that the club has been tinged by tragedy in recent times.
Gaffney said: “Denn is a very rural little place, and we really enjoyed the celebrations, bringing the cup back to St Matthew’s Park. We were always going to relish that before worrying about what’s coming next.
“We took a bit of a break with football and enjoyed the aftermath of winning an Ulster title, it not something that happens every day.”
He continued: “The way we do things, is that we take it game-by-game. After we won Cavan, anything after what was a bonus. We said we’d go out and give it everything we had and that we’d nothing to lose. We’ll bring that same attitude into the quarter-final.”
Cavan teams, for whatever reason, tend to struggle in the Ulster Championship arena. Denn, however, bucked the trend with a fantastic run to provincial honours, and despite some wayward shooting, were much the better team against Downings in the final. Gaffney says they were confident from the starting pistol.
“We always knew we had a good team. It’s a young team and until this year, we possibly felt we were underachieving. It was maybe a mentality or an attitude problem.
“We have a lot of young players. Our oldest is Mossy Corr and after him, the next oldest is 25. Then it’s players all the way down to 18 years old.
“But we were quietly confident heading into Ulster. We knew if we brought out ‘A’ game, the team that beats us would be doing well. If we were able to go out and play our best game, we knew if we lost, our opponents probably deserved it.”
The Cavan side will be raging hot favourites to account for Manchester side St Brendan’s, but they’re conscious of what happened the last time they allowed complacency to seep through the ranks.
Gaffney said: “We definitely won’t be complacent and we learnt that the hard way. We went in complacent for the postponed 2020 Cavan Junior final and we learnt a very valuable lesson that day against Templeport, and that’s stood to us since.
“To be honest we were probably glad to have lost that day in the fashion we did. It allowed us to learn what we needed to learn going forward, and we respect every team the same.”