Fear of Castlerahan's fate played on Kingscourt minds: Faulkner

Padraig Faulkner in action for Kingscourt.
Padraig Faulkner in action for Kingscourt.

THE fear of befalling the same fate as Castlerahan weighed on Kingscourt minds last weekend admits Padraig Faulkner.

Castlerahan knocked on the door for an eternity, losing four championship finals before getting over the line in 2018 and making it two-in-a-row the following year.

Yet things unravelled fairly quickly afterwards and they found themselves relegated to intermediate at the end of last year.

It was another sign of the unpredictability of a Cavan championship that last weekend entered the last round of group games with the last two beaten finalists, Kingscourt and Gowna, facing each other knowing defeat could be terminal.

“Coming to the game today we found ourselves in a situation we got ourselves in. It was in the back of our minds that it was do-or-die, and that even if we’d won and results had gone the opposite way we still could have found ourselves in relegation,” said Faulkner.

“But we came with the mindset of we do what we have to do and let results fill themselves.”

As it happened, Kingscourt’s one-point win coupled with other results meant that both squeezed into the last eight, where the Stars will face Killygarry – the team that relegated Castlerahan last year – and Gowna will meet favourites Cavan Gaels.

Since 2010, there have been seven different winners in Cavan and only the Gaels (three) have more than two titles in that period.

As Gowna manager Fintan Reilly agreed, all eight teams that have made it through will feel they have a genuine chance no matter how it’s gone so far.

It wouldn’t be the first slow-burning campaign in Kingscourt’s recent history. It hasn’t clicked yet this summer and Faulkner spoke of a “rude awakening” against Lacken the previous weekend.

“I think it’s that there’s no complete dominant team,” said the 28-year-old, who said he fully intends to go back in with the Cavan setup next year.

“Every year you’ve nearly two different finalists. I know you’ve had Ramor at the forefront of a lot of finals, and Castlerahan over the years were making finals and they find themselves at intermediate this year.

“I think it’s that it’s so close and no one team is the absolute dominant. I know Gaels are flying form this year with Gearoid but over the years they haven’t been clicking.

“I just think in Cavan, any one team can come from anywhere to win a championship.”

Faulkner admitted that in the absence of star attacker Jordan Morris, transferred in from his native Nobber in Meath, they were forced to face the over-reliance they were placing on his shoulders and deal with it.

Key to that was the performance of 36-year-old Alan Clarke, who was outstanding in the first half especially.

“This year we had Jordan coming on board with us and he can’t do everything. I think we rely too heavily on him,” admitted Faulkner.

“He was injured there and the team dug deep, every other man had to step up, whereas maybe in previous games other lads had an over-reliance on him and took a back seat role and thought they’d their job done when the ball got up to him.

“When we set out at the start of the week, we knew Gowna were a kicking team so we said we’d give them a bit of their own medicine. We kicked long.

“At some stages in the first half, we worked scores where it was three kicks from the ‘keeper and over the bar.

“Alan was an absolute handful, he’s still giving it absolute socks to the lads inside.”