Tuesday 23 July 2019

Cavan send Monaghan tumbling into the qualifiers with impressive Ulster Championship win at Breffni Park

Cavan 1-13 Monaghan 0-12

Martin Reilly of Cavan scores his side's first goal from a penalty during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship quarter-final match between Cavan and Monaghan at Kingspan Breffni in Cavan. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Martin Reilly of Cavan scores his side's first goal from a penalty during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship quarter-final match between Cavan and Monaghan at Kingspan Breffni in Cavan. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

The upsets continue in the 2019 All-Ireland football championship. In the first all-Division One clash in this year's series underdogs Cavan – who ended up being relegated – dumped Monaghan out of the Ulster series in front of their jubilant crowd of 13,496 at Kingspan Breffni Park.

It was Cavan's first championship victory over their next door neighbours on home soil in 32 years and only their second in this millennium. They now advance to their first Ulster semi-final since 2016 where they will meet the winners of Sunday's clash between Armagh and Down.

A fifth minute penalty from 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 midfielder 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.

On a dank evening in Cavan, the floodlights were turned on long before the start. Even though Cavan had only beaten Monaghan in one of their last five championship clashes, the 2.2 point average winning margin in those contests illustrates how tight this derby encounter tends to be.

Though he hadn't featured due to injury since last year's All-Ireland semi-final, Kieran Hughes lined out at midfield while Cavan's Oisin Kiernan started his first game since been treated for testicular cancer last year.

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.

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Conor Brady who was making his debut kicked a point after 15 seconds and Niall Murray added a second before the home side carved open the Monaghan defence in the 5th minute.

A 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.

In the first quarter Monaghan had to rely exclusively on frees to keep the scoreboard ticking over with Beggan and Conor McManus both pointing. But it was Cavan who were playing virtually all of the football and though they were held scoreless for six minutes, powerful running from Gearoid McKiernan who had moved to full forward in a swap with Thomas Galligan, had the Monaghan defence in all kinds of bother and more scores duly followed.

A stray dog – who had also made an unscheduled entrance during the preceding hurling game - made another appearance and play was held up for a couple of minutes.

Monaghan introduced Conor McCarthy – who was reportedly brought by helicopter to Cavan after sitting an exam in UCD earlier – five minutes before the break. But it was Cavan's breathtaking football which was the talk of the first 35 minutes as they repeatedly ripped apart the left flank of the Monaghan defence.

Monaghan were regulalry turned over in possession and though they kicked seven first half wides compared to three for Cavan, the overall poverty of their challenge was that they failed to score from play in a first half which lasted 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, all but two of Cavan's nine scores came from play and the home side thoroughly deserved their 1-8 to 0-4 half time advantage. Indeed, had they been more clinical in front of the post they could have had scored another brace of goals.

But during the league Cavan had consistently faded in the second half of games. Though McKiernan extended Cavan's lead in the 3th minute from a free Monaghan enjoyed their most productive spell hitting 0-3 on the spin with two of the scores coming from unforced Cavan's 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 who had been moving forward all evening kicked a big point to halt the momentum.

However, Cavan lost corner-back Conor Moynagh to a black card immediately afterwards and Monaghan went forward to hit a point to leave it a one score game (1-11; 0-11) with ten minutes of normal time remaining.

However, coming down the final straight Cavan got back 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 blacked in the first minute of the five added minutes as Cavan continued to control the exchanges and Monaghan had to resort to fouling to stop their momentum and when substitute Christopher Conroy kicked a free in the fourth minute of injury time it sealed a famous win for Cavan.

Cavan: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner (0-1), C Moynagh; G Smith, K Clarke, C Rehill (0-1); C Brady (0-1), G McKiernan (0-4, 1f); O Kiernan, D McVeety (0-1), N Murray (0-2); M Reilly (1-0, 1 pen), T Galligan, C Madden (0-2). Subs: C Brady for Kiernan 45m, C Conroy (0-1, 1f) for Smith 47m; C Mackey for Madden 55th; J Brady for Moynagh BC 59m, S Smith for Galligan 64m; K Brady

Monaghan: R Beggan (0-2, 1f, 1 45); D Wylie, C Boyle (0-1), R Wylie (0-1); K O'Connell, C Walsh, P McKenna; F Kelly, K Hughes (0-1, 1f); D Ward, D Malone, S Carey (0-2); R McAnespie, S O'Hanlon, C McManus (0-4, 3f) Subs: C McCarthy (0-1) for McKenna 31m; K Duffy for Malone ht; M Brannigan for O'Hanlon 48m; O Duffy for Ward 63m; N Kearns for Carey 65m D Mone for O'Connell BC 70 +1.

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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