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Breffni boys' goal-shyness epidemic stretches into third season

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Cavan manager Terry Hyland

Cavan manager Terry Hyland

SPORTSFILE

Cavan manager Terry Hyland

If Cavan manager Terry Hyland were running an economy, he would deploy a low-spend, low-tax model.

That's the obvious conclusion to be reached from some remarkable scoring trends produced by his squad over recent seasons. By the time they line up against Kildare in Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday evening, they will have gone seven hours and 12 minutes without scoring a league goal.

Their last league goal came against Longford in the Round 5 of last year's campaign. Since then, they have drawn a blank against Roscommon (twice) and Limerick in Division 3 and against Roscommon, Laois and Down in Division 2 this season.

They scored one goal in three championship outings last year against Armagh, Westmeath and Roscommon, having earlier hit a total of four goals in eight league games.

The goal shyness goes back to 2013 when they scored four goals in their last six league games before notching another four in seven championship games. Even then, one of the championship goals was scored in extra-time against Derry.

Excluding that goal, it leaves Cavan's total for their last 27 league and championship ties at 12. That's an average of one goal every two hours and 37 minutes.

The goal-shortage saga is completed by Cavan's failure to score two goals in a league or championship game since the opening round (v Antrim) of the 2013 league. Ironically, they lost that game, whereas they have done well overall since then.

Promotion

They reached the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final for the first time and clinched promotion to Division 2 last year. And while they lost to Down last Saturday, they had taken three of a possible four points in the first two rounds, keeping them very much in the promotion race.

While Cavan's goal rate has been very low, the defensive side of their game remains impressively solid. Their average giveaway in three league games this year was 13.3 points. They were even meaner in Division 3 last year, conceding a total of 1-67 (70 points) in seven games before Roscommon enjoyed more freedom against them in the final in Croke Park, scoring 1-17.

Striking the balance between building a secure defence while also releasing enough energy to power the attacking generator remains a big test for Hyland if Cavan are to advance in the manner the supporters expect after watching so much fine U-21 talent emerge over recent years.

Four successive Ulster U-21 titles have come Cavan's way since 2011, raising hopes in the county that presenting the Sam Maguire Cup to a fellow-county man will be one of happy duties for new GAA president Aogan O Fearghail.

Former Mayo star Liam McHale is working with Cavan this year and, presumably, increasing the goal rate will be on his agenda after such a long low-yield run.

Irish Independent