Monday 25 June 2018

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Cavan barely break sweat in brushing past feeble Wicklow

Cavan 2-16 Wicklow 1-5

Conor Moynagh of Cavan in action against Ross O'Brien of Wicklow during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1 match between Wicklow and Cavan at Joule Park in Aughrim, Wicklow. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor Moynagh of Cavan in action against Ross O'Brien of Wicklow during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1 match between Wicklow and Cavan at Joule Park in Aughrim, Wicklow. Photo: Sportsfile

John Brennan

The 14-point margin barely does justice to the gulf in class between these teams. Cavan were so superior to Wicklow that it wasn't funny, it's not funny that these two teams are supposed to be playing, in theory, for the same trophy.

For this game was every bit as bad as the scoreline suggests. Cavan were way too fast, powerful and incisive for the hosts. In truth this was an awful match. It was hard to believe that this game and the qualifier up in Derry earlier in the day, that yielded 40 scores, were played under the same rules.

Killian Clarke of Cavan in action against Ross O'Brien of Wicklow during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1 match between Wicklow and Cavan at Joule Park in Aughrim, Wicklow. Photo: Sportsfile
Killian Clarke of Cavan in action against Ross O'Brien of Wicklow during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1 match between Wicklow and Cavan at Joule Park in Aughrim, Wicklow. Photo: Sportsfile

While they were under threat, Cavan had 14 men behind the ball at times. Against Wicklow, who Dublin had scored three goals in 15 minutes the last day.

What touches of class there were , unsurprisingly, came from Cavan. Gearoid McKiernan kicked the first two points of the match as Cavan took control even though playing into a decent breeze.

Having tacked on a few more points, Cavan tied up the win as early as the 20th minute.

Midfielder Killian Clarke surged forward and was downed in the square. It seemed, at a distance, to have been a good shoulder, but referee Jerome Henry indicated that contact had been made with the head and gave the penalty that Martin Reilly blasted to the Wicklow net.

Gearoid McKiernan of Cavan in action against Dara Fitzgerald of Wicklow during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1 match between Wicklow and Cavan at Joule Park in Aughrim, Wicklow. Photo: Sportsfile
Gearoid McKiernan of Cavan in action against Dara Fitzgerald of Wicklow during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1 match between Wicklow and Cavan at Joule Park in Aughrim, Wicklow. Photo: Sportsfile

That score gave Cavan confidence and they began to dismantle the home team. A brilliant goal from the excellent Ciaran Brady, with the last kick of the first half, left us with a half-time score of 2-8 to 0-1.

It was a fair reflection of a putrid effort from Wicklow who had no attacking power at all. They were trying to play the massed defence tactic without bringing the manic intensity to the effort that you need to make the ploy work.

Instead, Cavan were brushing feeble tackles aside and making the space to take their scores.

It was no better for Wicklow at the other end.

They missed two simple kicks for points and you had to wonder how this team had beaten Offaly a few weeks ago.

The sight of people walking out of the ground at half-time told it own tale.

Wicklow folk had seen enough and their back gardens, or maybe the beach at Brittas Bay, were calling for the last of the sun's rays. Cavan were in those nice places, in their minds anyway, as they coasted through the second half.

Wicklow, perhaps having been roasted by manager John Evans at half-time, came out and tried hard. But their utter lack of nous in attack meant there was never a question of a comeback of any kind.

They launched long ball after long ball at big James Stafford, now at full-forward. As time expired, he finally turned one of those balls into a goal.

But in truth Cavan closed out this game with ease. They will know it won't always be as easy as this.

Scorers - Cavan: C Brady 1-3, G McKiernan 0-5 (1f), M Reilly 1-0 (pen), C Reilly (2fs), C Mackey (1f), S Johnston (1f) 0-2; D McVeety, O Kiernan 0-1. Wicklow: J Stafford 1-0, M Jackson 0-3 (2 fs, '45'), R Finn, D Hayden (f) 0-1.

Cavan: J Farrelly; K Brady, P Faulkner, E Flanagan; C Brady, C Moynagh, M Reilly; S McCormack, K Clarke; B Magee, G McKiernan , O Kiernan; C O'Reilly, D McVeety, S Johnston Subs: C Bradley for Kiernan (45) C Mackey for Johnston (51) J Wharton for Moynagh (60) N Clerkin for O'Reilly (63).

Wicklow: M Jackson; E Murtagh, R O'Brien, P Merrigan; J Crowe, D Healy, S Kearon; R Finn J Stafford; T Smyth, J Snell, D Hayden; S Furlong, J McGrath, M Kenny. Subs: K Murphy for Crowe (34), D Fitzpatrick for McGrath (ht), C Magee for Kearon (42).

Referee: J Henry (Mayo)

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