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Cavan finish strongly to claim Allianz Football League Division 3 Title

By mark Sun 2nd Apr

Cavan finish strongly to claim Allianz Football League Division 3 Title
Cavan finish strongly to claim Allianz Football League Division 3 Title

NFL Division 3 final

Cavan 0-16

Fermanagh 1-7

Paul Fitzpatrick at Croke Park

Having secured successive promotions, Cavan have now added back-to-back league titles after finishing strongly to get over neighbours Fermanagh in this evening’s Division 3 decider.

A week ago, Fermanagh were deserving winners at Kingspan Breffni, with two fortuitous Cavan goals putting a prettier complexion on the scoreline for the hosts. On that occasion, the Erne men needed to win to be certain of going up while Cavan had nothing bar pride to play for and the Breffni faithful would have been hopeful of a greatly improved showing here, with silverware up for grabs.

They didn’t get it in the first half – although, it must be said, neither were the Erne fans greatly entertained despite their side holding a slender 1-3 to 0-5 advantage at the break.

But Cavan improved as the contest wore on and played their best stuff in final 15 minutes including injury time, scoring 0-5 unanswered twice in the second half to run out deserving victors.

After a drab start to the game, Cavan opened a two-point lead with a pair of frees in the 13th minute from Gearoid McKiernan and Paddy Lynch.

Mickey Graham’s charges had half a goal chance after that, with Cian McManus intervening with a crucial touch to deflect the ball away after Ciaran Brady’s run created the opportunity.

Fermanagh didn’t open their account until the 22nd minute, when good work by Che Cullen and Luke Flanagan created a chance for Ryan Lyons to pop over, but they raised their game thereafter.

After Brady was felled, Lynch converted another free but it was quickly cancelled out by a similar Lyons effort after an eye-catching run from Josh Largo-Ellis.

After some textbook defending in the full-back position by Killian Clarke, Cavan swept upfield and Gerry Smith played in Ryan O’Neill, who darted along the end-line before fisting over – but such incisive play was the exception for Cavan.

From Fermanagh’s next attack, they hit the jackpot. A perfect ball from Largo Ellis released Flanagan, who centred for McGurn. The Belnaleck man evaded Padraig Faulkner and Ciaran Brady with a slick side-step before coolly rolling the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-2 to 0-4.

From a breakaway out of defence, Lynch did well to hold off a couple of defenders and point off the left but the Erne men had the final say of the first half with a 50-metre free from goalkeeper Sean McNally nudging them ahead at the halfway point.

James Smith got Cavan off to a bright start in the second half with a spectacular point but Fermanagh would edge in front again with a well-taken Aidan Breen score, created by Ultan Kelm, who lit up Kingspan Breffni last week but was well held this time by the outstanding Padraig Faulkner.

A 48-metre free from captain Ray Galligan tied the game on 48 minutes and when Lynch intercepted the resulting kick-out and Oisin Brady raised a white flag, Cavan had established a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Conor Brady was taken down and Galligan again did the honours from outside the 45. Killian Clarke was denied a goal by a goal-line stop from McGurn but again, Galligan showed his leadership by nailing the resulting 45.

Faulkner found Dara McVeety for the next, a high quality score, as Cavan hummed. Ryan Jones momentarily stopped the bleeding with a good effort and, buoyed by that, Kelm found sub Sean Quigley for another – and when Lyons converted a free, suddenly it was a one-point game again with exactly an hour played.

But Cavan pushed on. McKiernan, under pressure, squeezed over an important score. Jason McLoughlin, integral in the second half, stole possession, resulting in Conor Smith registering and after Conor Brady was denied a goal, Galligan again stroked over a 45.

Then, Oisin Brady again drove through and pointed and sub Conor Madden rounded it off with a superb score, via the upright, from the right wing.

Cavan’s second-half performance saw a return to form and was their best since the win over Down on March 5; it bodes very well for the championship opener against Antrim or Armagh on April 22.

Cavan: Raymond Galligan (0-4, 2f, two 45s), Niall Carolan, Padraig Faulkner, Jason McLoughlin, Ciaran Brady, Dara McVeety (0-1), Gerard Smith, Killian Clarke, James Smith (0-1), Jonathan McCabe, Gearoid McKiernan (0-2, 1f), Cian Madden, Oisin Brady (0-2), Paddy Lynch (0-3, 2f), Ryan O’Neill (0-1)

Subs: Conor Brady for J McKenna (19), Jason McLoughlin for N Carolan (ht), Conor Smith (0-1) for R O’Neill (46), Conor Madden (0-1) for G McKiernan (63), Tiarnan Madden for J McCabe (66)

Fermanagh: Sean McNally (0-1f), Lee Cullen, Che Cullen, Luke Flanagan, Jonathan Cassidy, Shane McGullion, Cian McManus, Ryan Jones (0-1), Brandon Horan, Josh Largo Ellis, Ryan Lyons (0-3, 2f), Ronan McCaffrey, Ultan Kelm, Darragh McGurn (1-0), Aidan Breen (0-1)

Subs: Sean Quigley (0-1) for A Breen, Declan McCusker for C McManus (both 41), Conor McShea for J Largo Ellis (52), Garvan Jones for D McGurn (59), Conor McGee for Horan (70)

 

By mark Sun 2nd Apr

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