“You see things, and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream of things that never were and I say ‘Why not?’”, Anthony Cunningham’s men showed in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day, that despite others dismissing their chances, they were not afraid to do like George Bernard Shaw and ask ‘Why not?’. Why shouldn’t they knock Crossmaglen off their perch andbe crowned all Ireland club champions?
Now that the dust has settled and they have had time to regroup ahead of Saturday evening’s all-Ireland final replay in Cavan they have even more reason to ask ‘Why not?’.
After all for three quarters of the drawn game they proved they were more than a match for the reigning all-Ireland champions. They did lose their way in the final quarter but still did enough to hold on to get a second bite at the cherry.
Anytime the underdog blows a lead and has to make do with a draw there will inevitably be talk of them having missed the boat. I didn’t see any boats departing Jones’ Road on March 17th and I don’t believe this Garrycastle team will buy into that preconception either.
Much has been made of the chances missed by Crossmaglen in the last five minutes a fortnight ago but Garrycastle too missed chances and should have been further ahead at the break. They also had a number of players who didn’t play to their full potential.
The biggest area which Garrycastle has to get right in the replay is how to dominate possession in the middle third of the field. David O’Shaughnessy and Seanie O’Donoghue are a formidable partnership but they will need to get more help on the breaking ball. Aaran Kiernan simply cannot be let hoover up ball like he did in the fourth quarter of the drawn game.
Indeed Kiernan caused a lot of damage bombing up and down the wing in Croke Park and if Garrycastle are to finish the job they will have to curb his influence.
I’m sure Anthony Cunningham and his selectors have looked at the possibility of short kick-out’s if Plan A isn’t working. In Doran Harte, Gary McCallan, and Enda Mulvihill they have the right lads to work the ball out of defence if Cross start to get on top around the middle.
Gary Dolan had a question mark hanging over him prior to the last game due to a hamstring problem. He did manage to play most of the game but I expect he can have an even bigger influence on proceedings on Saturday.
Rory McGowan is unavailable and he is undoubtedly a loss to the Westmeath champions. Otherwise Anthony Cunningham is expected to have a full hand to pick from and the team is likely to line out as selected the last day.
Crossmaglen welcome back their captain Stephen Kernan from suspension and the centre-forward will strengthen their attack. Paddy Mulvihill bagged the only goal the last day and if he is to be on the winning side it is vital that Garrycastle keep a clean sheet once more. With that said keeping Cross goalless for two games running is as big-ask.
Crossmaglen are a formidable outfit and it is going to take a monumental effort from each and every Garrycastle player who crosses the white line if they are to become the first Westmeath club side ever to be crowned all-Ireland champions. Many pundits doubt if they can pull it off but with the spirit and confidence that’s in their camp and the lessons learned in Croke Park they have to be in with a great shout. As Shaw would say ‘Why not?’.