Wednesday 25 April 2018

Dunne leads the charge as belief grows in Cavan


Cavan's Rory Dunne after the game.
Cavan's Rory Dunne after the game.

Orla Bannon

The rumours of a Russian submarine lurking deep in the waters of Lough Erne could not be substantiated, unfortunately.

The rumours of a Russian submarine lurking deep in the waters of Lough Erne could not be substantiated, unfortunately.

The only thing that was sunk for sure in Enniskillen yesterday was Fermanagh's Ulster championship hopes, torpedoed by a resolute young Cavan team hungry for success.

Fears over traffic chaos due to the forthcoming G8 summit deterred a lot of supporters from travelling to Brewster Park, particularly Erne fans, who were vastly outnumbered on their home pitch.

In the end there were no traffic problems and no sightings of any world political leaders, only an Ulster championship match that was more perspiration than inspiration.

There was not a hint of a goal chance by either side, and not a whole lot of memorable point-scoring, but it was exciting nonetheless as Cavan secured their first back-to-back victories in the province since 2001.


Fermanagh had a terrible start and failed to score until the 26th minute, by which stage Cavan had scored four points.

The Breffni men's ferocity to turn over the ball and zealous appetite for work was remarkable.

They had all the intensity and started at a fast tempo which seemed to catch Fermanagh by surprise.

Cavan knew Fermanagh would not afford them the same room as Armagh did the last time out and had planned accordingly.

They opted for long-range point-taking rather than feed their two inside men, with Damien O'Reilly and Niall McDermott both picking off left-footed scores from distance inside the first five minutes.

McDermott followed up with a free and Cian Mackey – who blocked and tackled and harried – somehow found the energy to get forward and score Cavan's fourth unanswered point in the 23rd minute.

Martin Dunne and Eugene Keating, the stars of the Armagh win, were kept quiet for the opening 25 minutes, with Ryan McCluskey playing deep as a sweeper.

Fermanagh – who had made three changes to their starting line-up before the throw-in – were rattled.

They were ponderous, slow to anticipate breaks and frequently had the ball ripped away from them as soon as they tried to breach the Cavan '45' line.

Shane McCabe was a case in point: too many times he tried to carry the ball into traffic and got turned over.

Twenty-six minutes passed before Ryan Jones got their first point of the game.

Martin Dunne, who'd seen little of the ball, then stroked one over for Cavan from an acute angle.

Tomas Corrigan replaced Paul Ward in attack and instantly got Fermanagh's second score and, when Declan McCusker added a third, it seemed as though they were finally in the game.

Cavan should have been further front – they hit eight first-half wides – and with half-time approaching, Fermanagh would have been delighted to have gone in trailing by 0-5 to 0-3.

However, Keating was to give Cavan the dominance on the scoreboard their play deserved with two points in three minutes before the interval, to give them a four-point cushion at 0-7 to 0-3.

Fermanagh, who had been so slow out of the blocks, stayed in the changing rooms for a long time.

Peter Canavan's words had an instant effect. Within five minutes of the restart, his side had scored three points in a row to close to within a point.

Half-time sub Daniel Kille was unerring with frees in the second-half, while Tomas Corrigan proved a point to his manager that he should have started by scoring twice from play either side of half-time.

On three occasions in the second-half, Fermanagh closed to within a point. But, every time, Cavan seemed to be able to get the point they needed to pull away again.

Keating and Dunne played well in the second half, and showed constantly for the ball.

Eoin Donnelly, back after breaking his leg during the league, was outstanding for Fermanagh.

Playing around the middle, he drove forward and, along with Marty O'Brien, was one of the few Erne men capable of carrying the ball and penetrating. He cut straight through Cavan for the first point of the second half and it gave Fermanagh belief.


After a few attempts, they finally got the equalising score in the 56th minute through a Kille free. It was the first and only time the sides were to be level in the whole game.

There were nine tense minutes, between the 56th and 65th minutes, when the sides were locked at 0-11 each, but Fermanagh just couldn't get their noses in front.

Both sides missed chances. Both knew that the next score would more than likely be the winning one.

It was Martin Dunne who provided it, spinning free from John Woods and splitting the posts.

The same player then missed a free but got another chance for the insurance point when Shane Lyons picked up a yellow card for a foul on Niall McDermott.

He converted it, condemning Fermanagh to their seventh straight championship defeat.

Cavan beat Canavan's side in Enniskillen in the qualifiers last year and while yesterday's result was not as emphatic, it's one that is a shattering blow to the Erne men who are without a championship win since beating Cavan in 2010.

Scorers – Cavan: M Dunne 0-5 (2fs), E Keating 0-3, N McDermott 0-2 (1f), C Mackey, D O'Reilly, M Reilly 0-1 each. Fermanagh: D Kille 0-4 (4fs), T Corrigan 0-2, D McCusker, E Donnelly, M McGrath, R Jones, S Quigley 0-1 each.

CAVAN – C Gilsenan 6; J McLoughlin 7, R Dunne 7, K Clarke 7; J McEnroe 5, A Clarke 7, R Flanagan 6; D O'Reilly 7, D Givney 8; C Mackey 9, J Brady 6, F Flanagan 8; N McDermott 8, M Dunne 8, E Keating 8. Subs: D McKiernan 5 for McEnroe (27), M Reilly 7 for Brady (41), T Corr 6 for D McKiernan (50), N Murray for McDermott (70).

FERMANAGH – C Snow 6; J Woods 5, B Cox 6, D Kelly 6; D McCusker 7, R McCluskey 8, M O'Brien 8; E Donnelly 9, M McGrath 6; C Quigley 5, S McCabe 5, R Jones 7; P Ward 5, S Quigley 6, T McElroy 5. Subs: T Corrigan 8 for Ward (29), D Kille 7 for C Quigley (h-t), S Lyons 5 for McGrath (51), B Owens for S Quigley (65).

REF – C Reilly (Meath)

Irish Independent

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