Wednesday 17 July 2019

Cavan oust their neighbours in first sizeable shock of the championship

Cavan 1-13 Monaghan 0-12

Padraig Faulkner dives in to block Conor McManus during the Ulster SFC quarter-final in Kingspan Breffni Park. Photo: Daire Brennan
Padraig Faulkner dives in to block Conor McManus during the Ulster SFC quarter-final in Kingspan Breffni Park. Photo: Daire Brennan

Sean McGoldrick

Cavan ended a three-decade wait for a home championship win over Monaghan when they dumped last year's beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists out of the Ulster championship last night.

It was their first victory over their next-door neighbours on home soil in the knock-out series in 32 years and only their second in this millennium. They now advance to the Ulster semi-final, where they will meet the winners of today's clash between Armagh and Down.

A fifth-minute penalty from man of the match Martin Reilly proved the key score and Cavan fully deserved their seven-point interval lead, and though Monaghan staged a fightback of sorts after the break they never got closer than three points.

Without their first-choice midfield pairing of Darren Hughes and Niall Kearins, Monaghan made their earliest exit from the Ulster series since 2011 when they lost to Tyrone in the quarter-finals.

They have a commendable record in the All-Ireland qualifiers but it will still take a gigantic effort on the part of a mostly ageing squad to regroup and reach the last four in the All-Ireland series for the second consecutive season. Nonetheless, under Malachy O'Rourke they have defied the odds in the past.

Cavan made a sensational start and were 1-3 to 0-0 ahead after only seven minutes even though Monaghan deployed Ryan McAnespie as a sweeper.

Conor Boyle of Monaghan in action against Cian Mackey of Cavan. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Conor Boyle of Monaghan in action against Cian Mackey of Cavan. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Debutant Conor Brady kicked a point after 15 seconds and Niall Murray added another before the home side carved open the Monaghan defence five minutes in.

An angled cross-field pass from the excellent Martin Kelly was collected by Conor Madden who was pushed over by Drew Wylie. Referee Conor Lane instantly pointed to the spot. Reilly was coolness personified as he slotted the penalty past All Star keeper Rory Beggan and a disgruntled O'Rourke questioned the awarding of the penalty afterwards.

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"I didn't see it to be honest so all I can go on is what people said. And they said it was a very harsh penalty. Unless a penalty is clear cut it should not be given because is had a massive bearing on the game. It gave Cavan that bit of breathing space all through."

In the first quarter Monaghan had to rely exclusively on frees to keep the scoreboard ticking over with Beggan and Conor McManus on target. But it was Cavan who were playing virtually all of the football and points from Gearoid McKiernan kept them in a healthy lead.

Gearóid McKiernan of Cavan in action against Fintan Kelly of Monaghan. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Gearóid McKiernan of Cavan in action against Fintan Kelly of Monaghan. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Monaghan were repeatedly turned over in possession but the overall poverty of their challenge was that they failed to score from play in the first half which lasted 40 minutes.

During the league Cavan had consistently faded in the second half of games. Though McKiernan extended Cavan's lead in the 39th minute from a free Monaghan enjoyed their most productive spell, hitting 0-3 on the spin with two coming from unforced Cavan errors.

Cavan's inability to win their own kick-out allied to an increased urgency from the visitors made the third quarter far more competitive as Monaghan outscored their opponents 6-2 to make it a three-point game with 15 minutes left.

The home side were now being pinned inside their own half for long periods and their scoring threat evaporated. But with 12 minutes remaining Cavan full-forward Padraig Faulkner kicked a crucial point.

However, Cavan lost corner-back Conor Moynagh to a black card immediately afterwards and Monaghan full-back Conor Boyle powered forward to hit a point and make it a one -score game (1-11; 0-11) with ten minutes remaining.

But coming down the final straight Cavan got on top with McKiernan emerging as a key figure. He kicked a crucial point and then won a free but goalkeeper Raymond Galligan was wide with the effort.

Karl O'Connell was black carded in the first minute of the five added as Cavan continued to control the exchanges and Monaghan had to resort to fouling to stop their momentum. When substitute Christopher Conroy kicked a free in the fourth minute of injury time it sealed a famous win for the Breffni men.

Scorers - Cavan: G McKiernan 0-4 (2f), M Reilly 1-0 (pen), C Madden 0-2, N Murray each, C Rehill, C Brady, P Faulkner, D McVeety, C McCarthy, C Conroy (f) 0-1 each.

Monaghan: C McManus 0-4 (3f), R Beggan (1f, 1 45), S Carey 0-2 each. C Boyle, R Wylie, K Hughes (f) 0-1 each.

Cavan: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, C Moynagh; G Smith, K Clarke, C Rehill ; C Brady, G McKiernan; O Kiernan, D McVeety, N Murray; M Reilly, T Galligan, C Madden. Subs: C Brady for Kiernan 45, C Conroy for Smith 47; C Mackey for Madden 55; J Brady for Moynagh BC 59, S Smith for Galligan 64.

Monaghan: R Beggan; D Wylie, C Boyle, R Wylie; K O'Connell, C Walsh, P McKenna; F Kelly, K Hughes; D Ward, D Malone, S Carey; R McAnespie, S O'Hanlon, C McManus. Subs: C McCarthy for McKenna 31; K Duffy for Malone ht; M Brannigan for O'Hanlon 48; O Duffy for Ward 63; N Kearns for Carey 65, D Mone for O'Connell BC 70 +1.

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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