For all Declan Cassidy’s success, last year’s county final defeat dominated the winter.
Being on the outside, looking in at winners, does that. In that moment, his seven winners’ medals were irrelevant.
The Harps had the chance to emulate Sunday’s opponents, Enniskillen Gaels, and their six-in-row.
In Cassidy’s first county final, 2004, they stopped the Gaels making it seven.
Cassidy remembers their modest expectations beforehand. The champions having a monopoly on possession. It was about hanging tough and Kevin McGrath’s goal made the difference.
Last year, it was Ederney’s turn to put the brakes on a dominant force, when Marty McGrath’s heavy lifting shattered Derrygonnelly’s dreams.
“It is not a nice place to be…standing on that field and I suppose you think of it all year,” Cassidy recalls.
It hit hard. Cassidy, now 38, laments the 2008 defeat and the other finals they should’ve reached.
“With the team we had, we should’ve won more. It drives you on and gives you that extra motivation,” said Cassidy, the iconic warrior and spiritual leader of the current crop that is littered with players with a litany of underage medals.
One of six brothers, it was always football at home. Just ask the gable wall about the evenings it got peppered with ball after ball.
It’s the first final he won’t tog out alongside older brother Kevin, who called time on his career at the end of last season at the ripe old age of 44, having played on the 1995 winning team.
“I always looked up to him when he was on that team,” Declan points out. “Six or seven years later, when you joined up with the seniors, it was great playing with him.
“We were 10 or 11 in 1995. When you saw those boys winning the first one, we looked up to them and wanted to be there some day.
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