When the results were in and the numbers were crunched, Cavan were looking down instead of up.
efeat to Derry in Kingspan Breffni meant they needed neighbours Longford to do them a favour against Fermanagh. Instead, the Erne men found an injury time equaliser that meant the Ulster champions will have to beat Wicklow in a fortnight’s time to avoid dropping into the basement division.
In the end, Mickey Graham’s men had left themselves with too much to do in the second half. They didn’t score in the third quarter and failed to register for almost 30 minutes either side of half time. For their part, Derry looked slicker.
Encouraged by Rory Gallagher’s promptings and the performance of the game’s star turn Shane McGuigan, they did just about enough to take their third win in as many matches and set up a showdown with Limerick for promotion to division two.
Still, Cavan might have pulled a rabbit from the hat here. Seven points down with 13 minutes to go they looked resigned to their fate. But a trademark fisted goal from Martin Reilly after some good approach work from Padraig Faulkner and frees from Gearoid McKiernan and Raymind Galligan brought them back to within just a point.
Suddenly a unlikely comeback looked to be on. And Cavan might have had another goal when Faulkner punched another hole in the Derry defence. This time he looked to be pulled as he was about to shoot but referee Padraig Hughes let play carry on and Derry cleared their lines.
Cavan kept battling and Cormac Timoney left just one between the sides in injury time but it was fitting that McGuigan steered over a brilliant late free to round off the scoring.
Derry had made most of the running and raced out of the blocks and kicked the first five points of the game. Shane McGuigan opened their account after just 18 seconds and further scores from Niall Loughlin and Emmett Bradley helped them into a 0-5 to no score lead before Cavan had mounted a meaningful attack.
However, Mickey Graham’s men felt their way back into the game and 18 year old Caoimhan McGovern got them off the mark. And with the home side applying considerable pressure on Oran Lynch’s kick outs, they rattled off four points in succession to leave it at 0-5 to 0-4 at the first half water break. However, Cavan needed captain Ray Galligan to make two crucial saves from Shane McGuigan and the Gareth McKinless to keep them in the hunt.
McGuigan put Derry two clear on the restart to end a 12 minute scoreless spell for them but Niall Murray replied for Cavan before McKiernan grabbed the first goal of the game. He was quickest to Martin Reilly’s dropping delivery and he punched to the net to give the Ulster champions the lead for the first time.
A McKiernan free then put Cavan three clear before Derry converted a goal chance of their own at the third time of asking. This time, the impressive Niall Loughlin rode a Cavan challenge on a run along the end line and fired to the roof of the net from a tight angle to pull the sides level. McGuigan kicked the last point of the half to see Derry take a 1-7 to 1-6 lead at the break.
Derry started much brighter on the restart and hit the first six points of the second half before Cavan launched their recovery effort. It came too late.
Derry: S McGuigan 0-8 (4), N Loughlin 1-3 (1f 1 45), E Bradley 0-3, C Glass, B Heron 0-1 each.
Cavan: G McKiernan 1-3 (2f), M Reilly 1-0, L Fortune, R Galligan (1f 1 45) 0-2 each, C Timoney, C McGovern, N Murray, O Kiernan 0-1 each.
Derry: O Lynch; C McKaigue, B Rogers, P McGrogan; P McNeill, G McKinless, C Doherty; C Glass, E Bradley; E Doherty, N Loughlin, C McFaul; B Heron, S MCGuigan, P Cassidy
SUBS: O McWilliams for McKaigue (BS 40-42), M McEvoy for Rogers (60), O McWilliams for Heron (62), B McCarron for McGrogan (64), J Doherty for Cassidy (68), S Downey for Loughlin (70)
Cavan: R Galligan; K Clarke, P Faulkner, C Conroy; C Reilly, O Kiernan, L Fortune; C Brady, K Brady; M Reilly, G McKiernan, C McGovern; N Murray, P Lynch, C Madden
SUBS: M Argue for Murray, C Smith for McGovern (both HT), TE Donohoe for Conway (50), S Murray for K Brady, C Timoney for Madden, T Galligan for Lynch (all 53), O Pierson for Donohoe (70)
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh)
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