COOKSTOWN’S second appearance in the All-Ireland club final is about more than just one game, according two senior players.
Full back Paul McGurk and goalkeeper Marty Rea are both survivors of Fr Rocks’ famous win in 2010 and both want this final to signal long term success for the club.
“Over the years that I’ve played for Cookstown we’ve been up and down between the divisions, and somewhere in the middle you wonder if you can hack the pace in Division One,” said McGurk.
“One thing I would say is that pound for pound the squad this year is probably better equipped to deal with the rigours of the game. That really has been the hallmark of this side.
“The level of performance of the guys coming in has been amazing and has ultimately led to this final.
“I remember last time we were in the final I walked out of the tunnel with Stephen Monaghan and savouring the moment. We’ve all been to matches at Croke Park but myself and a few others never thought we’d be back to play. For it to happen twice in four years is so special for everyone involved in the club.
“However, the focus all year has been to re-establish Cookstown in Division One, whether through league or championship.
“The likes of myself won’t be here in five years’ time but by then we’d hope to have the club competing regularly and being a mover and a shaker at the end of the season.
“Hopefully the result on Saturday goes our way, but you’ve got to look at what we can learn from the last experience when we were sent back down. Come a year’s time we don’t want to face intermediate football again - those days are over for Cookstown.”
Goalkeeper Rea agrees with this sentiment, picking out the effect of the younger players on the team, and the strength of the Cookstown squad.
“We’re very lucky to be at a club which has got to an All-Ireland club final twice and we are also blessed because a large part of the squad are still here, especially the older generation which, unfortunately, I am now one.
“I feel am able to enjoy this time a bit more as the first time it seemed to pass us by so quickly.
“The younger generation of our team who have been involved this season will be able to look back on this and see what they can achieve, if they put the hard work in.
“Ultimately, it means a lasting legacy for our club.
“This year’s team has certainly benefited from three years ago. It would be unfair to say that we are stronger than back then, but we have more experience in key areas. That means that when we get into a tight battle like we have done throughout this season, we have enough to get over the line.”