“Its why you play football, you want to play in Finals, County Finals,” said Cathal McCrann when asked if he was looking forward to next Saturday’s GWP Intermediate Championship Final, relishing the opportunity to win an elusive Leitrim Club Championship medal.
“We were in it last year and there was a good old buzz,” revealed Cathal, “It was our target at the start of the year and we’re looking forward. Last year, it was a long time since we got to a final, 2004 was our last final.
“This year, we’re in two in a row, even though it is Intermediate, but it is great to be in a final because it lifts the whole parish, the whole club, everybody comes together. You get people out who never come to a game for a final, it is great, it is a great old buzz.”
It may make training slightly easier, although Cathal contends that manager Dessie Barry still likes to run the team at training, but the experience of last year is both a motivation and irrelevant according to the Leitrim keeper.
Asked if losing last year’s decider was a motivation, Cathal said “It is not really, to one extent. We do feel maybe that we could have, we left it behind a little bit but this is a new year and there was a target set that we want to get back to the final, not driving us on from last year.
“Maybe that little bit of experience will help the younger lads, they’ll probably be more relaxed. Last year, we were after getting to a final for the first time in years, there was a lot of hype around the club. This year, we’re a little bit calmer before every game so it is a little bit different.”
Yet Gortletteragh were very close to exiting the championship in the semi-final and Cathal admits the thought did cross his mind that Gortletteragh had lost their chance before his equalising free in the drawn game.
“It crossed the minds when Maguire did put the free over but we knew there was a little bit more time from the few injuries. But look, we’ve always had trouble with Glenfarne, it has never been anything more than a point down through the years and every team has a bogey team.
“They came up here and beat us well in a League game. It is very hard to beat each other and it was a very good test to get.
“I know they were missing four good players the last day, we didn’t know that before the game and as soon as we heard that, we had a little bit of relief knowing they were missing the likes of Michael Maguire and thankfully, it all worked out in the end.”
The relief of the draw saw a very focussed and intense Gortletteargh take control of the final from the word go - “We were very focussed because in the first game, we never lead it at all. We set out our stall that we were going to lead this game from the front and we feel that if we can build up a lead, we’re a good team to finish it off and thank God that is what happened on the day.”
Of course, having a forward with Darren Duignan’s pace and finishing instinct is a help as Cathal admits - “Darren has been doing that all his life, he has tremendous pace and it really does help us out because he is very hard marked.
“In fairness to the lad, he is playing very well this year and it is good to see him doing so well. He has been around here a long time, he is travelling up and down from Dublin and he has a new child, fair play to the lad and hopefully, he can do it again in the final.”
Although there are quite a few young players coming into the team, Cathal contends that Gortletteragh are a very young side - “Woody is there a few years, young Niall Duffy is having a tremendous year. We have a few young lads, they are only 25, Woody is a lot younger than that but we have a very young team.
“Terry Kelleher is the oldest on the team and then you are down to myself and Cathal Quinn and we’re only 27 so it is still a young team.”
As for Dromahair, Cathal admits he hasn’t seen the north Leitrim men in action but expects a difficult challenge - “I haven’t seen them at all, I wasn’t up at the Shield game but from what I hear, they are going very well in the League game.
“Everybody in the county knows that Dromahair are fit, we mightn’t be as fit, we’re physically strong. They are very fit, I know the County lads like Paddy McGowan are very fit but it is a challenge we are looking forward to.
“I’ve been watching Kevin Conlan in training, I know where he likes to stick them. Kevin is a good freetaker, we can’t be giving away any frees. Last year, we were beaten by Emlyn Mulligan and our discipline let us down.
“We had that game and our discipline let us down. This year, we can’t afford it, I’ve seen Kevin Conlan in training and he’d be kicking frees from 45, no bother so we have to be disciplined.”
Finally, when asked if Gortlettergh were going to do it, a heart-felt reply saw Cathal answer “I hope so, I just hope so but Dromahair are going to be very tough. They’re flying it, they are doing well in Division One. I just hope so!”
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