By Niall Gartland
IT certainly raised eyebrows when Castlerahan were relegated from the senior ranks last season, but they seem to have steadied the ship under their new manager Brian Donohoe.
Perhaps it was inevitable that there would be a downturn in fortunes after claiming back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019 (their first in their history), especially as some of their best players have stepped away in recent seasons.
Former Cavan captain Ronan Flanagan, Brian Ennis and a certain Cian Mackey have moved on, but they have youthful talent coming through and finished sixth in Division One, a very impressive showing indeed.
They’ve also qualified for the last eight of the Intermediate Championship with a game to spare (they take on fellow high flyers Ballyhaise this weekend) and their manager is delighted with how things are progressing.
“It’s been a good campaign so far. We had a tough opener against Cuchulainn’s on our first day out, it was a tight, cagey affair and it would be no surprise if we met those guys again, they have some excellent forwards.
“Then we picked up two wins. Denn and Killinkere posed us plenty of problems so we were delighted to come through those two games. They were physical and there was no shortage of talent from either team, those were the type of games that stand to you.”
The general mood in the club is also good after the massive disappointment of last year’s relegation. Things are picking up but they’ll want to ensure their stint at Intermediate level is a relatively short one.
Donohoe, who happened to guide Ballinagh to promotion to the senior championship last year, said:
“We had a good league campaign and I think that’s brought confidence to the group.
“Our goal was to get into the top four, we didn’t make it, but we finished sixth so overall we were content with how it went and got a good look at our squad.
“The community is getting on board with things as well, things are starting to look up. The player are working really hard, we just need to kick on and keep improving because there’s a lot of tough tests ahead.
“This group had huge success at senior level, and though we’ve lost a few players, we have a nice mix of youth and experience.
“There’s big aspirations and while we still have work to do we’re definitely enjoying our football.”