Castlerahan have never won the Cavan senior championship. Unlike Mayo, there are no curses (that we know of) at play but over the last few years in particular, their players and fans must have been left wondering if there may indeed actually be some higher force who had it in for them.
The Ballyjamesduff club have contested the last three county finals, losing to three different teams; namely Cavan Gaels, Ramor United and Kingscourt Stars. In 2011 they also made the final but were hammered 4-11 to 0-7 by the aforementioned Gaels. In 2015 they lost to Kingscourt by a point, the following year they lost by two in a replay to Ramor, before losing again to a rejuvinated Cavan Gaels in last year's decider.
It's a tale of heartbreak, yet could it finally be about to have a happy ending?
This weekend they'll contest the county semi-final but Cavan Gaels will not. Neither will Kingscourt nor Ramor. They've all been knocked out. The 2013 champions, Ballinagh, are also gone. Along with Mullahoran, these four teams have won the last 15 county titles in Cavan. So whether Castlerahan finally reach the Holy Grail or not, this championship is already a frontrunner for the most exciting club competition in the country at the moment.
Castlerahan face near neighbours Lavey in the semi-final this Sunday. Should Lavey upset the odds and go all the way, it will be only their second county senior title ever. The other semi-final features Crosserlough and Gowna, two historical greats of Cavan GAA but teams who have fallen on hard times in more recent years. Gowna's last final win came in 2002, while Crosserlough haven't won one since 1972.
The story when I queried it with co board was that even though everyone agreed games are better outside of Breffni (till semis), neutrals wouldn't go to club venues and it hurt the board in pocket.
I always thought that was wrong and gate receipts should bear it out now... pic.twitter.com/IC5HRwPLum
— Paul Fitzpatrick (@moefitzpatrick) September 17, 2018
There are a lot of factors which have led to this being such an open competition but mostly it comes down to the unique structure of the Cavan championship. All 12 teams are put into the one group but play only four matches. The only opponent you know well in advance is the team you'll be playing on the opening weekend. After that the draws are made on a Sunday evening for the following week. From there the top eight teams go into to the quarter-finals and the rest is self-explanatory. Its layout makes for an extremely exciting couple of months but make sure no one plans any weddings for around then!
No matter who wins it this year they will be a hugely popular victor among neutrals but for the likes of Cian Mackey, Ronan and Enda Flanagan this may be the best chance they'll ever get to finally bring that title back to Castlerahan. While this year's intercounty championship may have lacked drama great sport needs, the stories of these clubs and others around the country are proof that, contrary to what some critics might say, Gaelic football is far from dead.