By Shaun Casey
77 days after locking horns in the opening round of the championship, Inniskeen and Scotstown will once again do battle on Sunday in the Senior Championship Final (Clones, 3.30pm).
That day, two points were on offer at the start of the group stages, but now, the Mick Duffy Cup is the prize on offer for the winner.
Since suffering that two-point defeat at the hands of John McEntee’s team, who will also compete in the league final against Latton next Saturday afternoon, Scotstown went on a five-game winning streak that has led to Sunday’s showpiece.
Victories over Magheracloone, Donaghmoyne and Clontibret saw David McCague’s side finish second in the group, behind Inniskeen, while they also saw off Aughnamullen and Corduff in convincing fashion to reach the final.
“We played Inniskeen up there in the first group game and we have played them loads over the last number of years,” said Scotstown captain Damien McArdle, who will lead the Ah Bhoth men behind the band this weekend.
“But Sunday is a new game. Yes, you can certainly take wee bits out of that first game but I’m sure they have improved since then and I’d say we have probably improved since that game as well.”
McArdle is no stranger to the big occasion as this will be Scotstown’s eleventh county final in a row, but this one has extra meaning for McArdle as he will wear the skippers armband.
Every year, the Scotstown players can still enjoy the buzz that only a championship final can bring.
“Every final is different and it’s all about the build-up to the game and the buzz around the club, it’s always different every year.
“There’s the big breakfasts and different things like that but as players we wouldn’t really be involved. But the general buzz round in the village is great, you go to the shop and everyone is talking about it, it brings the whole community together.
“It’s a massive privilege (to be named as captain) but there’s that many experienced boys in our team.
“David rang me one night to ask me and I was over the moon that he did.
“David has brought a massive drive and as a Scotstown man himself, he has a massive love for the club and everything with David is just down to dedication.
“Every fine detail, he’d be trying every fine detail.”
Scotstown lost their crown in last year’s decider when Ballybay proved too strong on the day, winning 1-11 to 1-8, so they will be intent on recapturing their title and McArdle says they are keen to “right that wrong.”
“You never like to end the season with a loss and that maybe does just give you an extra wee bit of extra incentive this year,” added McArdle.
“It’s not really passed much remarks on at training or anything like that but we all know that we let ourselves down last year and we want to go and right that wrong.”