Ballyhaise hoping third time’s the charm

WILL it be third time lucky for Ballyhaise in Sunday’s (Kingspan Breffni 5.30pm) Cavan Intermediate Championship final against Denn?

They’ve come out on the losing side of the argument in the last two county finals, though they weren’t far away on either occasion. In 2021 they lost out to Butlersbridge by a single score and in 2022 they lost by 1-8 to 0-8 to Castlerahan.

Their tale of woe doesn’t really end their either. While they did manage to come out on top in the 2015 decider, they lost out either side of that triumph in 2014 and 2017.

They’d be forgiven for feeling a bit fed up with it all but they’re back in another final and manager Damien Keaney is keen to point out that you have to be in it to win it.

“There’s a lot of clubs that would just like to be in finals in the first place. Yes everyone wants to win championships and we’re no different but the experience of being in those finals isn’t a bad thing and we did win in 2015.

“There’s nothing easy to get to a final so we’re lucky to be in so many and we obviously really want to get across the line this time around.”

They are pre-match favourites but that’s no guarantee they’ll get the better of a Denn side that have carved an equally comfortable path to the final. From the group stages onwards, both teams have been in top form so it makes for an appetising prospect from a neutral perspective.

“Denn are going very well, they reached the league final (in Division Three) and have really pushed on in the championship. They’ve been winning their games comfortably and will certainly be a difficult team to break down.”

Leading players on the team include the vastly experienced Kevin Tierney, David Brady and captain Padraig Moore, integral figures in their last championship-winning team of 2015.

But they also have exceptional underage structures and young lads like Evan Crowe, Luke Gilmartin, Cormac Callaghan and Killian Brady are already making their mark on the senior team.

The pieces are in place to make amends for 2020 and 2021 but Denn won’t give anything away easy.

“There’s a great conveyor belt of talent coming through, especially this year, we’ve had a number of 17 year olds playing on the team and coming on during games.

“They’d be a breath of fresh air on any team. Lads that age really enjoy playing football and want to be part of the group and part of the scene.

“It’s quite a unique blend of player from 17 to 30 plus, it’s great for the young players but also for the lads who have been soldiering for years.”

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