By Niall Gartland
CROSSERLOUGH boss Jimmy Higgins hopes they’ve learnt from a rather underwhelming championship campaign in 2021 as they get ready for their round one clash against Cavan Gaels this weekend.
They won their first senior title in 48 years in 2020, but they didn’t even make it out of the group last season – albeit they were handed a series of extremely tricky draws.
Higgins, who was on the line when they reached the promised land two years ago, refuses to use that as any sort of excuse, however.
“That’s the way draw goes sometimes but there probably was a bit of a hangover in fairness. We’re a young team and we won it for the first time in nearly 50 years. Heading into 2021 things were very disjointed because of an extended lockdown but we can’t use that as an excuse either as every team was in the same boat. In hindsight we just weren’t good enough last year but we used that as an opportunity to regroup and take a good look at where our ambitions are.”
So far it’s all gone according to plan as they won the Division One league final in an absolutely barmy match with Cavan Gaels, who just happen to be their first-round opponents. Crosserlough won that game by 6-18 to 4-23 after extra-time, which says it all, but it was the culmination in a sense of a consistently high level of performance throughout their league campaign.
“We got to last year’s league final and didn’t win it so we were conscious of that, but at the same time we didn’t put too much stock in this year’s league as every team was missing fellas for one reason or another. We had lads tied up with the county and boys away travelling, but it worked out well for us and we were able to flesh out our panel as a result.”
Crosserlough have also been boosted by the return of former Breffni stalwart Dara McVeety, one of the county’s best players. He spent the last number of years in Australia but he’s back home for the foreseeable future, in a huge boost to the club going forward.
“It’s great to have Dara back, he’s one of the best players who’ve emerged from Cavan in the last 15 years.
“It’ll be an adjustment for him to play championship football again given the games come so thick and fast but we’re delighted to have him back and he hasn’t lost any of his ability. On the flipside, his brother Shane is away travelling now.”
Last year’s final was contested between holders Ramor and an up and coming Gowna side, but Cavan Gaels still pose a considerable threat, as Crosserlough almost found out to their cost in their recent league final encounter.
“Cavan Gaels may have been written off in some quarters but you can’t afford to. They have some household names in their ranks, including Gearoid McKiernan who was outstanding against us, Barry and Luke Fortune, Sean Johnston, Niall Murray.
“Their manager (Jason Reilly) is one of the best in the business as well and has reams of experience.”