By Niall Gartland
INJURY-STRICKEN Arva had a disaster of a year in 2021, but they’ve bounced back in style and secured promotion to Division One with last weekend’s semi-final victory over neighbours Cornafean.
The pressure’s well and truly off ahead of this Saturday’s League final showdown against Mullahoran (another local rival) and their manager Gabriel Keogan is just glad to be in this position as Division Two was exceptionally tight this year.
“I wouldn’t say promotion was our target at the start of the year but after five or six games we turned a corner and started getting wins.
“It’s funny the way it panned out, heading into the last round of group stage fixtures we could still have finished eighth had results gone a different way. If it had gone to head-to-head it would’ve pushed us right down as we had a poor enough start to the league. So it’s great to get promoted and the league final is a wee bonus at the end of it.”
Arva are still feeling the knock-on effects of a disastrous 2021 which saw them relegated to the Junior Championship. Injuries practically decimated the squad, but key players have returned to the fold including Cavan star Ciaran Brady, who was sidelined with a cruciate injury. The Junior Championship isn’t where they want to be, but they won’t get anything easy with strong teams loitering around like Drumlane and Knockbride.
Keogan, who is in his second stint in charge of the club, said: “The first thing that happened is that we lost Ciaran Brady, then Conor Sheridan, our top-scoring forward and free-taker got a significant injury. We lost Danny Ellis, one of our best defenders, and then other lads started picking up knocks. We had 12 or 13 lads missing at one time, it was a bit of a disaster really.
“The whole thing has changed very quickly. Lads have recovered and we have some good young lads coming in like Barry Donnelly who was with the Cavan u-20 squad. Tristin Hoffman plays soccer for Longford Town and has thrown his lot in with us, and he’s playing in midfield alongside Johnny McCabe who has come home from Australia. If we had our full team last year we likely would’ve comfortably held our own at Intermediate level.”
Promotion is in the bag but it would be nice to round off their league campaign with a piece of silverware. Mullahoran will have other ideas, naturally.
“We played them in the league a couple of weeks ago and it was a real tight game, we won by a couple of points. Killian Brady and Cormac Reilly are back now that Cavan have finished up so they’ll be a different animal, and we have Ciaran Brady back as well so it’ll be interesting. It’s a final at the end of the day so it would be great to win it and that’s the plan.”