Cavan stutter past London to make final eight
Cavan 1-17 London 1-8
The last time Cavan enjoyed a winning sequence such as this summer, they won the All-Ireland.
That was 61 years ago and, after a stuttering performance against the Exiles, a repeat seems even further away despite this nine-point success.
Terry Hyland’s side are in the quarter-finals nevertheless despite a brave London effort, pulling away in the final quarter for a flattering win which barely reflects their level of performance.
“We’ll be back next year with an even better team,” said proud London boss Paul Coggins. “The Connacht final took it out of us.”
London were level at half-time despite chasing down a five point deficit after the opening quarter and they stuck with the northerners until tiring in the final 15 minutes.
In front of only a few hundred patrons at throw-in, London stole an early lead point from Cathal Magee but the trend seemingly predicted by all was firmly established as Cavan thundered into a six point lead.
Had they pounced for one of two excellent goal chances in the opening quarter when they cut swathes down the Exiles’ initially soft centre, they could have obviated any chance of a revival.
A sweeping Cavan move saw Cian Mackey ghost into a goal-scoring position but London goalkeeper Declan Traynor deployed clever positioning to bat the ball away with his body.
Then, as Cavan begun to stealthily compile five unanswered points in succession within the opening 15 minutes, London had corner-back David McGreevy to thank as he got a hand to Jack Brady’s goalbound shot.
However, leggy London refused to be cowed and their spirits were undented by Cavan’s initial barrage and, as they loved Shane Mulligan into a sweeping position, they managed to repel the northerners’ rangy running game.
As they began to secure more ball themselves, they grew into the game although it seemed they needed something special to kickstart their dormant challenge.
Midfielder Paul Geraghty provided such a moment in the 2oth minute when he palmed a clever cross-field ball from the right-hand side by Magee to stun Alan O’Mara in the Cavan goal.
His team-mates were equally bamboozled as London drove on from this unlikely spur – a brace of super points from play from Derry native Ciaran McCallion helping his side to draw level by the 25th minute.
Cavan’s youthful side were clearly rattled and it took the leadership of corner-back Mossy Corr, operating around the middle third, to kick two wonderful points from play and restore some semblance of composure.
London, despite lagging again for a five-minute period, were sufficiently resourceful to have the final word of the opening half, though, Lorcan Mulvey’s second free tying up the game at 0-9 to 1-6.
Cavan manager’s Terry Hyland’s half-time oration would have made for interesting eavesdropping.
His side clearly didn’t listen as they were abject on the resumption, panicking in the face of London’s massed defence.
Cian Mackey showed his team how to do it, driving forward to point and Eugene Geraghty raised his first flag to edge his side two clear but London, with Mulvey striking another free, continued to offer dogged resistance.
Points from Fearghal Flanagan and David Givney pushed Cavan ahead before Eugene Keating smacked a shot against a post with the goal gaping in the 55th minute, albeit a square ball may have been signalled had he goaled.
Caolan Doyle’s inspirational point kept London’s hopes alive as the game entered a tantalising final ten minutes before Cavan managed to pull away as the Exiles’ memorable summer finally caught up on them.
Scorers – Cavan: M Dunne 0-5 (3f), D Givney 0-3, N McDermott 1-0. F Flanagan,T Corr, E Keating (1f) 0-2 each, C Mackey, M Reilly (45),
London – P Geraghty 1-1, L Mulvey 0-3 (3f), C McCallion 0-2, C Doyle, C Magee 0-1 each.
Cavan: A O’Mara; T Corr (J McLaughlin 58), R Dunne, K Clarke; J McEnroe (D McVitty 47), A Clarke (capt), R Flanagan (K Brady 66); D O’Reilly, D Givney; C Mackey, J Brady (N McDermott 62), F Flanagan; M Reily, M Dunne, E Keating.
London: D Traynor; P Butler (B Collins 50), S Curran, D McGreevy; S Hannon capt (D O’Neill 43), A Gaughan, C Og Greene; C Doyle (E O’Neill 59), P Geraghty; S Mulligan, D Dunleavy, C McCallion (S Kelly 43); G Crowley, L Mulvey, C Magee.
Ref: B Cassidy (Derry)