Breffni men back in the big time
Cavan 0-17 Tipperary 2-10
Cavan supporters were in no mind to clear the pitch in Kingspan Breffni yesterday. They were back in the big time after an absence of just a year. In the snake pit that is Division 2, they had stood firm.
It's not unfair to say they rode their luck at times. Tipperary played most of the second-half with 14 men when midfielder Liam Casey saw red on 41 minutes after a clash with a Cavan player, in a decision that looked harsh in real time. Despite the extra man, the home side didn't manage to draw level until the 64th minute. And even then, Tipperary found a response to edge ahead again.
But with the game on the line, a Gearoid McKiernan free and a booming winner from sub Conor Madden was enough to secure the spoils and an immediate return to the top flight.
"I'm absolutely delighted," Cavan boss Mattie McGleenan beamed afterwards. "With the result last week not going our way, we knew today it was still in our hands, but it required a massive performance to get us over the line and in fairness they delivered."
Cavan timed their run brilliantly. They led after eight minutes when a Caoimhin O'Reily free put them 0-2 to 0-1 up, but they wouldn't get their noses in front again until Madden's injury-time intervention.
In between, Tipp had the edge. A penalty from Conor Sweeney after Jimmy Feehan had been fouled separated the sides at the break as Tipp lead 1-5 to 0-6.
Cavan had cut the gap back to a point when Casey was sent off. And with almost a full half hour to play, the home side looked well positioned.
However, Tipp played some of their best football after the dismissal and worked a brilliant move that started with a clever kick-out and ended with the excellent Liam McGrath palming to the net on 54 minutes.
That put Tipperary three points to the good, but with promotion in their grasp they seemed to lose their nerve.
Jack Kennedy hit the post with a simple point attempt and dropped another effort short a few minutes later. Veteran Cian Mackey pulled Cavan level on 64 minutes before Tipp sub Kevin O'Halloran was wide with another point attempt.
Sweeney and McKiernan would swap frees before Madden landed the winner deep in injury-time.
Tipp boss Liam Kearns believes his side only have themselves to blame.
"I think we left it behind us," he offered afterwards. "The referee's decision? I don't know why he was sent off, my player says he did nothing. I don't know if it is on TV or not, but we had 14 men for the whole second-half.
"I think we left a lot of scores behind us and in the second-half we repeated the dose, so that was crucial. We kicked it away ourselves, you can't have complaints. Fair play to Cavan, they hung in there and they got the point at the finish to win the game.
"I'm proud of my boys, with 14 players they gave it everything and were really courageous. They showed a lot of bottle against the wind and away from home with a big crowd behind Cavan.
"I couldn't fault them, other than we left our shooting boots behind us. We played very well up front and picked up big tallies. I think we got 2-10 today, but we were averaging 2-16 or 2-17 and we should have that today."
Cavan tackle Roscommon on Sunday for the Division 2 silverware before their Ulster Championship opener away to Donegal, while Tipperary must play Down in their last game as the Mournemen look to maintain their Division 2 status.
Scorers - Cavan: G McKiernan (3f), C O'Reilly (2f) 0-3 each, B Magee (2f), C Bradley, D McVeety, C Mackey (1f) 0-2 each, C Brady, C Madden, R Galligan (1f) 0-1 each.
Tipperary: L McGrath 1-4 (2f), C Sweeney 1-1 (1-0 pen, 1f), L Casey 0-2, S O'Brien, J Keane, L Boland 0-1 each.
Cavan - R Galligan 7; J McLoughlin 6, P Faulkner 7, E Flanagan 6; M Reilly 7, C Brady 7, C Moynagh 6; G McKiernan 7, K Clarke 6; D McVeety 7, B Magee 6, O Kiernan 6; C O'Reilly 7, C Mackey 7, C Bradley 7 Subs: A Cole 6 for O'Reilly (45), S Johnston 6 for Flanagan (57), S Murray 6 for Moynagh (58), N Clerkin for Bradley (67), C Madden for Magee (69),
Tipperary - E Comerford 8; A Campbell 7, E Moloney 6, J Meagher 6; B Maher 7, R Kiely 8, J Feehan 7; S O'Brien 7, L Casey 6; J Keane 6, J Kennedy 6, B Fox 6; C Sweeney 6, M Quinlivan 6, L McGrath 8 Subs: K Fahey 6 for Maher (28), L Boland 7 for Fahey (46), K O'Halloran for Kennedy (66), G Hannigan for Sweeney (70).
Ref - F Kelly (Longford)
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