Gowna retain crown with emphatic victory
Kingscourt Stars 0-13
Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni
Gowna retained their title with an emphatic victory over Kingscourt Stars in one of the most one-sided Cavan SFC finals in decades.
Behind by four points at the end of the first quarter, Gowna struck for a couple of quickfire goals and didn’t look back; they wrapped the game up early in the second half and ran out the easiest of winners.
An experienced Kingscourt team started superbly and looked to have cracked the code on kick-outs at both ends of the field.
After 16 minutes, the Stars led by 0-6 to 0-2 but Gowna’s trademark in recent years has been their ability to get goals – they haven’t won a championship match without hitting the net, in fact, since the 2016 quarter-final replay – and they turned the game on its head with a devastating five-minute burst in which they struck for 2-1.
And when they added another goal before the break to lead 3-5 to 0-8 at the interval, the momentum was firmly with the defending champions and there seemed to be no way back for the 11/4 underdogs.
After a cagey opening spell, Kingscourt opened the scoring with the first of a succession of high-quality first-half points when Padraig Faulkner bombed one over from 40 metres.
Tiarnan Madden levelled the scoring with a 40-metre free but the Stars would score five of the next six points to take control of the contest. After a well-worked move, Alan Clarke laid off for Peter Corrigan to clip over but Gowna quickly countered with a long-range Ryan Donohoe effort.
Kingscourt by now were growing in confidence, bypassing Gowna’s zonal press and succeeding in getting their restarts away, and they turned the screw – although they were living dangerously at times, somehow managing to keep Gowna out after a goalmouth scramble for the second time.
Jordan Morris showed his speed to tear in and fist over and the lead was doubled when Joe Dillon ran at the defence and curled in. Shane Duffy won the resulting kick-out and found Barry Reilly for a sublime effort from play and when the Stars pinched another restart and Ciaran Dermody clipped over, they were well in control and the upset seemed on.
But that was as good as it got for the east Cavanmen as a youthful Gowna, eight of whose starters were aged 21 or younger, took charge of the game and turned in a masterful performance, powered on in particular by Man of the Match Ryan Brady at midfield and his Cavan U20 teammate Tiarnan Madden.
The pair combined, with Brady belting to the roof of the net in the 17th minute and they levelled moments later with an outside-the-boot Eoghan Hartin effort.
The resulting kick-out was intercepted and Cian Madden flicked the ball to Darragh McConnon, who blasted home, and suddenly Gowna were three in front with 19 minutes on the clock.
Kingscourt stemmed the bleeding with a sweetly-struck sideline ball from captain Barry Reilly, who was forced off at half-time with injury, but Gowna quickly added two more points from Cian Madden (free) and Conor Casey.
A spectacular long-range Dillon point made it a three-point game but when Ryan Brady squared for Oisin Pierson at the back post to rifle home Gowna’s third goal on the stroke of half-time, the men from the lough shore were almost home and hosed.
Jordan Morris converted a free on the restart but Gowna bossed the third quarter. A brilliant move, started by Seanie Hartin, was finished by Tiarnan Madden and the winners made it 4-6 to 0-9 after Conor Madden forced a turnover and Tiarnan Madden swivelled and hit the net.
By now, it was a procession. Cian Madden knocked over a free and then, after Gowna intercepted another kick-out, Tiarnan Madden palmed in his second goal.
There were still 21 minutes to go but the contest was over. Morris struck a brace of frees either side of Tiarnan and Conor Madden white flags from play. The same pair registered again as the clock ticked down, Dillon had a free for the Stars but Cian Madden and Eoghan Hartin landed two more.
With time almost up, Peter Corrigan scored for Kingscourt but sub Daire Madden had the final say as Gowna ran out 17-point winners for a most impressive ninth Senior Championship title.
Gowna: Ronan Bannon, Cormac Brady, Ryan McGahern, Eoghan Hartin (0-2), Ryan Brady (1-0), Conor Brady, Tiarnan Madden (2-4, 1f), Robbie Fitzpatrick, Ryan Donohoe (0-1), Seanie Hartin, Conor Casey (0-2), Cian Madden (0-3, 2f), Oisin Pierson (1-0), Conor Madden (0-2), Darragh McConnon (1-0)
Subs: Fionán Brady for Conor Brady (14), Daire Madden for O Pierson, TJ Fitzpatrick for D McConnon (both 53), Mark McKeever for Conor Madden (55), James Madden for C Casey (57)
Kingscourt Stars: James Farrelly, Shane Gray, Padraig Faulkner (0-1), Ciaran Roe, Barry Tully, Paddy Meade, Odhran Cunningham, Peter Corrigan (0-2), Sean Burke, Ciaran Dermody (0-1), Barry Reilly (0-2, one s/l), Alan Clarke, Jordan Morris (0-4, 3f), Joe Dillon (0-3, 1f), Shane Duffy
Subs: John Oates for C Dermody, Cian Shekleton for B Reilly (both ht), Kevin Curtis for S Burke (45), Cathal McKeown for S Gray (49), Paddy Farrelly for A Clarke (58)
Ref: Mickey Lee