Despite Darryn Gaynor’s record-breaking strike inside the opening 10 seconds of last season’s Challenge Cup final, his Bellurgan United side went on to lose it after extra time.
Whether it was a case of scoring too early, decisions going against them or any number of reasons, the 2014 edition will always be the one that got away.
If one good thing has come of it, it has perhaps made United all the more determined to right those wrongs when they face Navan Cosmos this Saturday.
“We were all gutted about last year. To be 2-0 up and not win was tough. We felt aggrieved about the penalty especially when the linesman wasn’t sure why it was given but I think that has driven us on to go better this year,” Gaynor said, before looking back on his early strike.
“The ball just came to me and I thought I’d just give it a go but I couldn’t believe it when it went in. I’ve been taking a bit of stick from the lads about scoring too early and doing nothing else after 10 seconds but I would have preferred not to get the goal and gone on to win the cup.”
This year, Navan Cosmos represent a new challenge for Gaynor and co. From previous experience, he knows just how tough it will be and they are a side he has a healthy respect for.
Although the sides have beaten each other at home already in the league this season, he won’t be reading too much into those results.
“We lost 2-1 up there but we didn’t have the team we have now and then we had our full team when we beat them here but they were missing lads, because I’d be familiar with their team,” he admitted. “Before that last game, I’d played them five times since joining Bellurgan and lost all five but we are confident that we know how to play against them and what they are about.
“Both teams are renowned for getting men forward and scoring goals and both enjoy playing football so everyone will be raring to go. Their manager has a footballing philosophy too so they are the kind of team you could sit and watch.”
The striker may not be having as prolific a season in front of goal as he was last year but that is down to a more concerted team effort all round and he was full of praise for the new additions to the side including Paddy Keenan and his brother, Dean.
“I have nearly 20 goals which isn’t as much as last year but last season myself and Ciaran were scoring a lot of the goals whereas now it is more of a team effort. Everyone is chipping in and that takes the pressure off,” continued the Ardee man.
“There is a lot more quality in the squad. That was probably the thing that just let us down maybe last year in the end but we have 20 players in the squad and any one of them could come in and do as good a job or better one.
“Paddy, Ray and Dean have all added experience and quality. We have two or three players for each position and everyone is pushing each other on so everyone is on their toes.”
Gaynor, now in his third season at Tom Flynn Park, now craves a trophy to go with his goals. Having come close in the league, they face the Cosmos in the Kilmessan Shield semi-final as well as this Saturday and if they get a taste for silverware, the peninsula side may start to experience it even more.
“We have been having the season of our lives. The league didn’t quite go the way we wanted it to but we are in one final and the semi-final of another and even in the league, we were pushing along with four teams right until the end. That is great to see so it means we are coming in not overly confident but happy with how things are going,” he concluded.
“We just need to start winning trophies now and get one under our belts because once we do, I think we could be hard to stop.”