Reilly: 'It's all about the collective'

SFC final preview

On Sunday Fintan Reilly will patrol the sideline in a senior county final for the third year in a row.

“It’s a great place to be but as we do say to the players in Gowna, it’s them that does the work and we facilitate what goes on round it… We’ll take one at a time. Now that we’ve got this far, we know how it feels to lose one and we know how it feels to win one so we know when we take the field against Kingscourt what way our emotions will be, and we have to keep all intact because it’s going to be a massive, massive game,” the Redhills native told the Anglo-Celt.

“Kingscourt is a good traditional club and I was just looking through their team and they probably have more senior medals in their team than there is in the Gowna team. It's something we just have to look forward to as well. It’s going to be a challenge and a new challenge which we’ll look forward to and enjoy it.”

After a convincing win in the semi-final over Crosserlough, there’s a feeling that this young Gowna team could become the dominant force in Cavan. “The potential is there and that’s commonly known around the county that the footballers are in Gowna and that’s down to a couple of years ago when the club hung on in senior for a few years. They won relegation play-offs then it was, get back to grassroots coaching in the club and that has brought this group of players through.

“There’s players coming through every year in Gowna and that’s going to stand to them going forward. It is a young team but it’s a mature team. The boys are willing to learn every day they go out. We got a couple of new players into our squad this year that added to the team and along with the old wily heads that are still there, there’s a good bond between the players. They get on very well together and they’re all their for the one goal and that’s to win championships and do the best for their club in Gowna.”

With such a strong panel, the former Cavan number one explains how they select the starting 15.

“We base it on who’s going well in training. I really enjoy managing and working with players but it is the only downside to it that you can only play 15. We could have a panel of 35 in Gowna and they’re there every night and there are some unbelievable footballers on that panel that don’t just get a chance to show what they are able to do.

“We have went through the championship and we have used a lot of players and while we give out about it in the league, not having access to our county players, it gives us an opportunity to look at other players as well. Some lads have put their hand up by coming through that situation and that has developed us into the team we are because there’s pressure every night we go out and train to perform because we know there’s a man willing to pick up the mantle if it’s dropped.

“One thing I would say is that the group is grounded and they all want to succeed but they all know it’s about the team. It’s not about the individuals in Gowna, it’s all about the collective team and that makes our job easier when it comes to that.”

Gowna entered the semi-final as underdogs but produced their best performance of the championship which lead people to say they have timed their run perfectly but Reilly insisted that it’s not that simple.

“It’s not timed. It’s just the way it is, we suffered injuries throughout the campaign. We’re no different than any other team. Conor Brady was carrying a knock coming back from Cavan and he didn’t play the first couple of rounds, Ryan McGahern was the same and then we lost Cormac Brady, Fionnan Brady and Cillian Brady and Conor Madden is carrying a knock, Oisin Pierson is carrying too. It’s about managing these players when they were coming back with the championship being so condensed if a lad has a bad injury well he’s gone for the championship.

“So that was part of trying to work out where we’re at and it is coming together but we still know we have a lot of work to do. I think the same last year, we drew our quarter final and came back and won it and beat Crosserlough in the semi-final and everyone keeps talking that it’s the same as you did last year, timing your run but that’s not the way it is.

“It’s just the nature of the players we have in Gowna that we only get them back for a certain length of time and then we have so much work to do with them to blend them back into the team. While they are all at training it’s just trying to get what’s right for us. We’d be happy to be back in a final but we know what we have to do to retain our title.”

Former All-Star Dermot McCabe makes up the other half of the joint manager ticket in Gowna and the former Templeport and Drumlane manager gave an insight into how it works so well.

“It’s no different than Benny and Owen Lennon, you’re constantly on the phone, you’re constantly talking and constantly trying to come up with different things. We build snippets of information and we come together with plans and we try to work through them.

“Dermot to be fair does all the coaching where I do other work with regards opposition and other stuff and Seamus is doing work in regards to our own team. We all come together with ideas and we have serious debates, everyone thinks that we just roll over and we get on with it, we don’t. We have serious debates on where we’re going but we wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t them debates.

“We wouldn’t be going for a third county final in a row. It’s a partnership that works, we all get on well together and we’re there for the interest of the team. We keep saying that a lot of these players have come on board with good ethoses of their own, that they are willing to learn and they want to be successful. That has left us with an easy job at times

“The hardest part as I said earlier on is trying to pick the right balance and pick the right team but I know everyone won’t be happy when we pick the teams but that’s just the nature of it. Our relationship as a management team works very well together and we know the jobs we have to do and we just get them done and we hope that they are right at the end of the day.”

Watch Gowna you can see the passion the management team have for the team.

“When you’re working with these players and the talent they have, it brings it all out. You see what they do and the lengths they go to to be at training and the sacrifices they make. There will never be a excuse as to why I can’t be there. They will be there and this is bred into them from their fathers winning medals and they want to be as successful as their fathers. That brings the passion out in us - when we see what they’re doing we know that these boys are 100pc committed to the cause.”

With Gowna going into Sunday’s final as strong favourites Fintan is guarding against complacency.

“I’m after saying there about fathers in the Gowna dressing rooms with medals. It’s no different in Kingscourt, they have a lot of experience. They possibly felt they left the 2020 final behind them when they drew with Crosserlough the first day, they’ve still all the same players and they’ve added Jordan Morris to that. They were in the league final a couple of months ago and they’re there on merit as they’ve been excellent throughout the championship. People talk about Gowna timing their run, Kingscourt have timed it very well too.

“They’ve taken big guns out, they beat Cavan Gaels twice in the one championship, they beat Ramor, Ballinagh and Mullahoran. They’ve done a lot of damage in this championship and they’re not coming down to Breffni to say this is a great day out.

“They’ve come down before and gone home with the championship in their back pocket and they’re coming down with the same mentality on Sunday.”