By Niall Gartland
REPLAYS often take on a life of their own, and Ramor joint-boss Ray Cole believes there’s less pressure on both sides ahead of Sunday’s Senior Championship final replay against Gowna.
The drawn encounter was a nervy enough affair (the game finished ten points each), so both sides will be looking for an improved performance this weekend.
Last year’s Cavan showpiece went to a replay as well – Crosserlough and Kingscourt played out a draw, and although they were lucky enough to survive on their first day out, Crosserlough were full value for their five-point win when the matter was settled second time around.
Cole said: “The pressure is probably off on both sides. It’s not going to be as big a day, there’s no game beforehand and there’s no big hullabaloo. It’s probably a bit more low key.
“In fairness we’ve been taking things low-key anyway, taking it game by game and we’ve been doing the same thing all the time. We haven’t changed, so it’s just another game for us in a way.”
While Ramor were appearing in their third final in six years, it was effectively new terrain for a young and exciting Gowna team. Gowna spurned three chances to kick a winner in the closing stages, so Cole was relieved that his side have a second bite of the cherry. That said, he points out that they had to play 20 minutes of the game with 14 men (Ramor wing-back Adam O’Connell was black carded just before the half-hour mark, while midfielder Enda Maguire finished the game on the bench after a challenge on Conor Casey).
Cole commented: “They had three chances to win it so I’m sure they’ll rue that. In fairness they were pressure shots and we were down to 14 men at the time. We’d two black cards, so we played for 20 minutes with 14 men. In a game like that, it was probably a tough ask for us to get the win so we’re happy to have another crack at it.”
While they didn’t get the job done, Ramor will have learnt a lot from the experience (the same could obviously be said for their opponents).
“We always knew they’d be a big challenge. They’re a young and fit team who like to carry the ball, they’ve a couple of really good ball carriers. We know a bit more about them. It was just the second time we’ve played them. The first time was the start of the league and both teams had different lads on the team so that was really the first time we played them with their full squad. So we’ll have learnt a bit too.”
Both defences were solid on the day. Gowna stalwart Mark McKeever, who has been playing for their seniors for two decades at this stage, had a great game, while Ramor did extremely well to limit a hitherto free-scoring Gowna team to only 10 points across the hour.
“They got away from us a couple of times down the middle but look, our backs were in serious form and they held them well to 10 points. Gowna have been putting up cricket scores all year, which was good. Our backs were super so hopefully it’ll be the same again.”
Cole is also content enough that there was no extra-time played on Sunday, with the Cavan County Board opting for a replay in advance of the occasion.
“We knew well in advance that if it was a draw it’d go to a replay so I didn’t think too much about it. I think a replay is fair. We can reboot and go again. It has to finish next day, there’s extra-time and penalties if needed and hopefully it won’t come to that.”
Speaking on Monday, Cole had already watched back the video of the game twice. Both sides have plenty to work upon – the second-half wasn’t a great watch and at times both sets of forward lines lacked composure in front of the posts.
“I’ve watched it twice now, I watched it last night and again today. My management team will review it as well. We’ll have another look at it and go through it all. We’ll get back training and try to put a few things in place.”