Gowna skipper looking forward to special day for the parish

By Niall Gartland

GOWNA are back in a Cavan Senior Championship final. You could say it’s a bit of a throwback – they won five titles between 1996 and 2002 – but their captain Ryan McGahern isn’t getting caught up in the nostalgia of the whole thing.

The league title is in the bag, and reaching the final is another string to their bow, but McGahern won’t see that as much of a consolation if they fall short on Sunday against 2016 champions Ramor.

In fact, he finds the back-slapping from well-wishers just a little bit patronising.

“That’s the thing. You’re hearing this, what I’d call, oul shite, that ‘you’ve done well, it’s a great year for ya and fair play to ye’ and I’m thinking ‘jeez our season isn’t over just yet.’

“Maybe people are like that because we’ve been going badly for so long. There is this attitude that ‘you got the league and got to a handy final so fair play to ya’ but we want to go the whole way, every lad is playing well for us.”

McGahern can barely remember the last time they won the title, back in 2002, but he has more vivid memories of their most recent final appearance.

They came out second best against Cavan Gaels in 2007, but he recalls looking up to the likes of Cavan legend Dermot McCabe, joint-manager of the current team alongside Fintan Reilly.

He said: “I was only seven or eight in 2002 so it’s a distant memory. But in 2007 my father was the chairman and I was that ball-boy type figure knocking around.

“I know they lost that year but it’s the only final I really remember. Ah sure everybody grew up wanting to be Dermot McCabe.

“He’s over us now which I suppose is a bit weird but you don’t really think about it most of the time in that way.”

Gowna aren’t the only team from the parish competing in a senior championship final this Sunday at 3pm. Longford side Mullinalaghta (those Longford giant-killers who defeated Kilmacaud Crokes in the Leinster final two years ago) on the other side of the Erne River, are competing against Mostrim. It’s a pretty amazing turn of events, really.

“It is a bit strange, nearly all of us went to school in Longford, and I played school’s football with a lot of the lads playing now.

“I was chatting to a Mullinalaghta fella earlier and it’s funny we both have a county final this weekend. It maybe means more to us, they’ve been through all this before.”

With a few noteworthy exceptions, this is a young Gowna team. But youth doesn’t necessarily equal inexperience – three of their players won Ulster Championship medals with Cavan last year.

“Oisin Pierson, Conor Brady and Conor Madden won the Ulster title, and then you have Mark McKeever who played for 13 seasons with Cavan. Our goalkeeper Ronan Bannon is 42 now so he has a lot of experience, and Raymond Keogh is another stalwart. People say we’re a young team but we have a lot of experienced mixed in as well.

“Someone asked me how I think the game will go – and I said I don’t know, it’ll all depend on the day. But you never know what might happen.”

gowna mullinalaghta

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