Football

Sporting clichés pale in comparison to the dreams of the Hogan Stand

Arva look to put a halt to Kerry dominance of national junior scene

Ciaran Brady's experience will be very handy for Arva in the Cavan junior championship
Ciaran Brady has been dependable for Arva and Cavan for the best part of a decade, and he now has 60 minutes in Croke Park to become a hero.

AIB All-Ireland Club JFC final

Listowel (Kerry) v Arva (Cavan) (Croke Park, Sunday, 1:30pm)

Consistency?

The quality of achieving a level of performance which does not vary greatly in quality over time.

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Ciarán Brady has earned himself a reputation of Mr Consistent in County Cavan. Time and again he delivers. Solid, secure, sensible, with just enough style to be classy without looking like an egomaniac.

Delve a little deeper, and it’s remarkable how his boat has remained level in the choppiest of waters.

In the last decade, Arva have won Junior finals in Cavan. They’ve lost them too. In 2015, they were Intermediate finalists at the first time of asking.

That proved a bridge too far, but senior status soon did come, before an almighty tumble.

When you fall off a cliff, you don’t land halfway down the valley.

Arva hit the bottom like a tonne of bricks, and Junior football was there to welcome them with a smug grin, and no smile of encouragement.

9 January 2024; AIB ambassadors and footballers, Ciaran Brady of Arva, Cavan and Cathal Keane of Listowel Emmets, Kerry, pictured ahead of this weekend’s AIB GAA Club Football All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final, between Arva vs Listowel Emmets. This season, AIB will honour #TheToughest players in Gaelic Games - those who persevere no matter what, giving their all for their club and community. AIB is in its 33rd year supporting the AIB GAA All-Ireland Club Championships. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile (Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

For Brady too, there was the Ulster title of 2020. Traffic thronged Cavan town and the Anglo-Celt winners were packed onto a curtain trailer like livestock, looking primed for a drive-by bidding war.

Who would have thought you’d find out the price of success at the mart?

Undoubtedly that triumph was tainted by the global pandemic, but then came Cavan’s relegation to Division Four, and an ACL injury for the Arva skipper. When it rains, it pours.

That’s why days like Sunday mean so much. That’s just one snippet of one story. Arva’s panel of 30 odd men will carry 30 odd more. So too Listowel, and each of the supporters that make their superstitious way to Jones’ Road.

An All-Ireland final unites a community like nothing else. Even Mr Consistent must have dwelt on the thought that Arva will likely never be here again during his playing career. There’s a chance they’ll never be back full stop.

Consistency is the ultimate sporting cliché. So rarely does it happen.

The Hogan Stand is more suited to dreams anyway.

To win just once….