Kingscourt still out to prove their doubters wrong

Cavan Senior Championship final replay

Kingscourt v Crosserlough

Saturday, Kingspan Breffni, 5pm

KINGSCOURT manager David Lennon is quietly confident that they can get the job done at the second-time of asking against Crosserlough – but only if they can stitch together a full 60-minute performance.

His side were left playing catch up in Saturday’s drawn encounter after a sluggish start to proceedings, but they successfully reeled in a 1-5 to 0-1 deficit and were denied the championship trophy by a Mark Stuart free deep into injury time.

Lennon said immediately after the match that he was “disappointed” that they let it slip, but he knows that there’s serious gains to be made if they come roaring out of the traps in Saturday’s replay.

A couple of our young lads seemed to freeze early on. It was shown live on RTE and maybe the occasion got to them a bit.

We started very poorly in the quarter-final against Mullahoran as well, but any game we’ve started well in we’ve ended up dominating from start-to-finish.

When Kingscourt put in a consistent performance, they’re very hard to beat as they’re physical and fit, with some good players down the middle. So while we’re disappointed that we only managed a draw, we’re quietly confident that if we start well the next day, we could push on and maybe get the job done.”

While they obviously want to win the Oliver Plunkett Cup for its own sake, Lennon admits the side have been motivated by analysis in the local press in the last two seasons.

Anglo Celt Sports Editor Paul Fitzpatrick had them at ninth in the overall pecking order last year, and in a similar article back in May, he ranked Kingscourt eighth in the county.

Lennon thinks it’s very unfair, pointing out that they’ve only been beaten once in the last two years of championship football – a narrow quarter-final defeat to Cavan Gaels last year.

I spoke to numerous reporters at the weekend and I made the point that they were ranked ninth last year in Cavan and eighth this year and the boys felt it was an awful insult.

The boys didn’t take it well. They felt that they’re a better team than that.

The year before last they didn’t have a good season but we felt it wasn’t right that we to be ranked eighth after only being beaten in the championship once.

That was a bit of motivation for the players to prove Paul and other boys wrong.”

Lennon also wonders whether their slow start at the weekend can be explained by the massive effort they put into their semi-final victory over pre-tournament favourites Cavan Gaels. He hopes a full week’s rest will allow Kingscourt to fully recharge their batteries.

We played Cavan Gaels on a Sunday at 8pm, so technically we’d less than six days for the final and it came round very quickly.

The Cavan Gaels game was a very physical game. We brought a lot of physicality to it and we probably weren’t as geared up for the final. That’s probably another reason why we started so poorly. So hopefully a rest will help and we’ll not be as tired.”

Cavan Junior Championship final

Denn v Templeport

Sunday, Kingspan Breffni, 3pm

IT wasn’t that long ago that Denn were competing for senior titles, but they won’t want to pass up the chance of claiming their second ever Junior Championship in Sunday’s final against Templeport.

Denn lost back-to-back senior finals to Cavan Gaels in 2008 and 2009, but now they ply their trade in the Junior ranks and have had little to crow about in the last decade.

However, under their new manager Stephen Baxter, they’ve managed to qualify for this year’s decider and in quite some style, hammering Kildallan and Shannon Gaels in the knock-out rounds of the championship.

Baxter, who steered Ballymachugh to the Junior title in 2017, says their run to the final has been a real boost to the local community.

“There’s always excitement when you reach a final. A lot of people are looking forward to it, and in fairness Cavan County Board have set up a really good streaming service so everyone should be able to watch it one way or the other.”

The Crosskeys-based club qualified for the decider with a surprisingly comfortable 3-18 to 1-9 victory over Shannon Gaels. Baxter says nullifying their ace forward Caoimhín McGovern was half the battle.

“To be honest we were surprised by the margin of victory because that’s a very good Shannon Gaels team and they were going very well.

“It was one of those days where everything went right for us, and nothing went right for Shannon Gaels. We managed to handle young Caoimhín McGovern pretty well – he’d been lighting up the school’s scene – and that’s probably one of the main factors behind the result.”

Denn were equally as comfortable in the quarter-finals as they cruised to a 3-19 to 0-14 victory over Kildallan, and Baxter is conscious that their opponents Templeport have faced sterner tests en route to the final.

However it’s not Denn’s fault that they’ve been in such scintillating form, and they have some top players in their ranks, including former Cavan midfielder Tomas Corr and Thomas Edward Donohoe who won a Sigerson Cup medal with DCU earlier in the year.

“Templeport had a very tough game at the week against Knockbride, and you’d prefer to go into the final like that, but all we can do is look after ourselves. The Junior Championship has been played off very quickly so we just try to manage ourselves week-after-week and it’s been going very well so far.”

By Niall Gartland 

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