Teams like to avoid the tag of favourites like the plaque, managers more so and Billy Gavigan is no different until he tells you that he doesn’t care who are favourites for next Sunday’s Connacht Gold Senior Championship Final as long as his team wins.
When the topic of favourites comes up at the press night in Kinlough, Billy told the Observer “I don’t care, people say that we are favourites but it would have to be Glencar/Manorhamilton, they’re going for five in a row.
“They’re the proven side, they have got the results, they’ve got four cups but we’ll put it up to them on the day. I don’t know care who gets the favourites tag as long as we win by a point, that’s the main thing.”
If that is a great statement of intent from Melvin Gaels, Billy reveals that the intent on reaching next Sunday’s Final was there from the start of the year – “It’s a big occasion for the boys and for myself. We set out at the start of the year to get to the championship final and the progress every week, you could see a difference coming in them.
“We sat down and we chatted about the thing early in the year, they were all willing to put the work in and they put it in and you can see the results from putting the work in. They are working as a team, they are working major as a unit and they are encouraging each other which is great.
“The team that doesn’t work together is a team that loses and the boys have worked hard since January, they deserve to be where they are. We have a few new faces in but there is no-one who doesn’t deserve to be on the team. It is a great thing that we are having a job of picking a team.”
Looking back on the campaign so far, Billy pin-points the two knock-out games as crucial to Melvin Gaels progress as he admits his team haven’t been without a touch of luck in the championship – “Against Aughawillan, we went out there and we never gave them a chance. They were fancied to cause the shock of the season but we were in their face from the minute go and we proved that, by going at them and running at them, you can win games, they played well.
“Aughawillan wasn’t a bad team, it’s just we didn’t give them a chance to play football and the game was over at halftime really. Bornacoola were a big physical side and our lads weren’t ready for that. They thought they could go out and beat Bornacoola like they had in League matches and Shield matches, they thought it was only a matter of turning up.
“It took them 20 minutes to waken up but it was a great result because that was the day that Melvin Gaels proved they were in for the championship, that day they grew as a team.
“We were very lucky, we started sitting back and defending instead of playing as we were playing. At one time, both teams except the Bornacoola keeper was in our half of the field and something has to give and we gave away frees handy.
“We were very lucky to come out of that game because I’ve watched the video and one of the players, I’d say he wasn’t half an inch from touching the ball and if he had touched the ball, it would have been in the back of our net.”
Champions Glencar/Manorhamilton are up next, a game that always has massive significance locally whatever about the small matter of the Fenagh Cup and Billy admits his admiration for the Champions.
“They haven’t been playing well all year but they’re still getting the results and that is the sign of a good team. It is a local battle, it’ll be dog eat dog out there, there’ll be no love lost out there and it is going to be a very good game for spectators to watch.
“Glancy and Croal are going to take some watching but we have the boys to watch them. There has never been much in our games, since I took over there has been two points in a game, draws and things like that and a point.
“We’re close enough to each other, it depends on who turns up on the day. I still think there will only be a point or two in it at the final whistle.”
And a prediction for the final, Billy says “We’re very confident of the side that they’ll produce the goods. It will come down to the last ten minutes of the game, who is the hungrier and who wants to win it more and hopefully, it will be us.”
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