The inagural presentation of the Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe Memorial Cup is made by Niall Lynch to Southern Gaels joint captains Cormac Boylan (left) and Fionán Brady following the O’Reilly Group U20 final.

‘Lessons learned from defeat helped turn things around’ - Brady

Coming into the U20 Division 1 championship, six of the Southern Gaels starting 15 had lined out on the field for Gowna in the county final draw and replay loss to Ramor United. That defeat left a mark, with a first-round loss to Cuchulainns, but Southern Gaels managed to turn the tables with a merited victory when the sides met again in last Saturday’s final in Virginia.

Asked whether this win made up for losing the county final, Southern Gaels joint-captain Fionán Brady didn’t dress up his answer.

“Not a lot does. If we win it next year it will make up for it but not a lot makes up for losing a county final with your club. It’s every lad’s dream to win it. It does make up for a bit a bit, look… it’s nice to end the year on a high at least,” Fionán, son of former Cavan player Ciaran, told the Anglo-Celt.

“It was tough enough after the loss (in the Senior Championship final) but the boys to be fair to them came back, we took a week off, came back, trained and thankfully just got it done in the end. It’s a good team.”

The U20 final was no place for the faint-hearted.

“It was tough enough, Cuchulainns are a tough team and have a lot of good players. It was tough and on this pitch, it isn’t the best of pitches but, look, we got through it in the end.

We just took whatever we got and we kept going and pushed on. Bad start, good end, that’s all you can ask for.”

What did Southern Gaels learn from their first-round defeat to their would-be final opponents?

“We learned that we weren’t near where we should have been. We kind of went into it with a bad attitude, it was the week after losing the replay. There were lads injured, there were lads sick but at the same time we still went into it with a very bad attitude.

“But we knew, we only lost it by four or five points even though they kind of controlled the game and we knew we could easily make those points up if we just put in the effort in the following couple of weeks.

“We knew we’d put in the work.”

The eventual winners played second fiddle for the first half hour but were much the better side after the break.

“We just organised ourselves (at half-time),” explained Brady.

“We were organised beforehand and we kind of went astray and the sending off put it further astray but it was just a matter of calming down, realising we had played poorly in the first half and we were still only two points down.

“It was just a matter of playing smart football and doing what we did to end the first half. Keep doing that – and that’s exactly what we did.”