Cavan hit stoppage time winner against Down to get Mickey Graham reign off to winning start
Dr McKenna Cup - Cavan 0-13 Down 1-09
Conor Madden’s exocet point just seconds from full-time gave Cavan victory at Kingspan Breffni.
The Gowna ace thumped the ball over the bar from long range four minutes into the allotted five minutes of added time to make it a dream debut for new Cavan manager Mickey Graham.
The visitors were flattered by the final scoreline, though, with their failure to score inside the opening 21 minutes of the second half telling.
Paddy Tally's Down charges were at their best in the first half when their new-look midfield partnership of Loughlinisland’s Aaron McClements and Daniel McCarthy (Saval) shone.
On the new Breffni surface, the tone of the game was set from the early moments with scores coming in machine gun-like fashion as Down brought the game to their hosts. The elusive Pat Havern was to play a key role in Down’s display and his ninth-minute point helped ease his side into a hardly flattering 0-4 to 0-2 lead.
A gem of a point on 15 minutes from debutant Stephen Smith was followed moments later by the sin-binning of his brother Pierce Smith before another over-the-shoulder effort from Havern made it 0-6 to 0-4 for the visitors.
With both sides operating in uber-defensive mode, scoring chances continued to be at a premium but points from Pierce Smith and man of the match Raymond Galligan drew Cavan level (0-6 to 0-6) at the interval.
Four minutes after the restart, a converted '45 from Galligan edged Cavan into a one-point lead after Down 'keeper Rory Burns dived full length to push Ciarán Brady's goal-bound effort around the post.
Cavan pushed on and thanks to fine points from sub Simon Cadden and Stephen Smith (free) leaped into a 0-11 to 0-6 lead after 54 minutes.
Down dramatically bridged a 30-minute barren gap by mining their only goal when Havern goaled from the penalty-spot after team-mate Conor Poland was fouled.
Conor McGrady's peach (72) had new Down boss Tally eyeing a draw only for Madden to fire over with the outside of his foot from 55 metres.
SCORERS — Cavan: R Galligan 0-3 ('45, 2f); S Smith (1f), C Madden, C Brady 0-2 each; N Murray, P Smith, S Cadden, J Brady 0-1 each. Down: P Havern 1-3 (1f, 1-0 pen); C McGrady 0-2; R Burns (f), A McClements, R Mason (f), C Harney all 0-1.
Cavan – R Galligan; S O'Connor, P Faulkner, C Moynagh; S Murray, C Brady, M Stuart; M Argue, T Galligan; M Reilly, N Murray, S Cadden; P Smith, S Smith, C Madden. Subs: J Galligan for T Galligan (27); P Moore for P Smith (49); C Mackey for M Reilly (52); J Smith for M Argue (52); J Brady for S Cadden (65).
Down – R Burns; R McAleenan, R Wells, K McClorey; R Johnston, B McArdle, R Brady; D McCarthy, A McClements; C Francis, C Poland, D McKibbin; R Mason, P Havern, J Johnston. Subs: Conor McGrady for D McKibbin (39); D McClements for A McClements (41); S Annett for K McClorey (46); C Quinn for R Johnston (55); C Harney for R Brady (58).
Ref – M McNally (Monaghan)