Cavan Senior Football Championship
Castlerahan v Ramor United
Sunday, Kingspan Breffni Park, 3.45pm
RAY Cole was a peerless defender on the Ramor side which won the Cavan Senior Championship in 1992, but even he knew he couldn’t go on forever.
He kept playing for the club until 2009, but his love of the club was such that he took on the managerial role a year later alongside Kevin McDonnell.
Cole is back for another stint this year – this time partnered by former Meath captain Shane McAnarney – while his nephew Ado has been one of Ramor’s star performers en route to Sunday’s Senior Championship final against Castlerahan.
He’s been there, done that and got the t-shirt, and says that this year’s championship has been one of the best in living memory.
“The championship has been brilliant – the best I’ve seen in years. The games have all been very tight no matter who’s playing, and with an open draw you never know who’s coming next. It’s been great for the neutrals.”
The Virginia-based side defeated Castlerahan in the senior final replay in 2016 despite having an extremely young and inexperienced team.
They’re a little older, and hopefully a little bit wiser too, and have already secured two of the stand-out victories of this season’s championship: overcoming Crosserlough in the group stages before repeating the trick in the semi-finals.
“We probably won unexpectedly in 2016, the team had an average age of 19 or 20. They’re three years older now and have a couple of new lads coming through to put the pressure on. There’s a good panel there and the deserve to be in the final.”
Ramor had an excellent league game but came unstuck in the final against Castlerahan. They lost 1-9 to 0-6 in a poor performance, and had a patchy start to the championship, but the return of players like return from the States of Brian O’Connell and Killian Maguire coincided with their upturn in fortunes.
Cole is confident that their league final defeat, which was, after all, all the way back in July, will count for nothing this Sunday.
“It was just a bad day out. We scrapped over the Gaels in the semifinal so the signs were there we were getting tired.
“We’d played something like five games in three weeks at that stage which was tough going and took its toll, but it’s done and dusted at this stage.”
Ramor limited Crosserlough to only 12 points in the semi-final, which was no easy feat, but Castlerahan are the masters of grinding out a victory since they put their final hoodoo to bed last year. Cole recognises it’ll be a mammoth ask to clinch their fifth ever senior title this Sunday.
“It’s Castlerahan’s fifth final in-a row and they’ve had nearly the same line-out for the last five years.
They’ve a very settled way of playing and they’re going to be hard to beat. Their experience alone is vital.”
Ramor seem to be coming to the boil at the perfect moment, however, and it wouldn’t be the shock of the century if they take the spoils on the hallowed turf of Kingspan Breffni.
“It looks like we’re coming at a good time but when you get to a final all players lift their game. They want to play in the final so everybody’s champing at the bit.”