Johnston woe inspires Cavan in comeback
CAVAN 3-13 FERMANAGH 0-15
ALL-IRELAND SFC QUALIFIER
Cavan proved there is life after Seanie Johnston with an astonishing comeback at Brewster Park yesterday.
The Breffni county were staring at another tame championship exit when they trailed by six points, 0-13 to 0-7, after 50 minutes. Then came the drama.
First, the announcement over the PA system that Kildare had been beaten at Croke Park. That got the loudest cheer of the day from the Cavan supporters -- at least until the team responded to the news with a superb 3-3 in the next 10 minutes.
From the moment Gearoid McKiernan hit the net in the 51st minute, this first-round qualifier in Enniskillen was turned on its head. Cavan hit 2-2 in an incredible four-minute spell, McKiernan having a hand in the second goal by Niall McDermott.
They blitzed Fermanagh, Eugene Keating adding the third goal. The momentum totally swung against the Erne men, who collapsed.
Fermanagh boss Peter Canavan struggled to make sense of it, but admitted he could have done without Cavan getting a fillip with the Kildare result at a stage in the game when his team were dominant.
Daniel Kille hit nine points for Fermanagh, eight from frees, and one of those frees on the hour mark appeared to stop the rot after the concession of an unanswered 2-3 from Cavan.
There was still plenty of time for Fermanagh to steady themselves, and they only trailed by three. Yet within 20 seconds, the ball was in the back of their net for a third time.
Eugene Keating, the man who scored 0-5 from play against Donegal last time out, drilled a third goal past Ronan Gallagher.
It was their first win in the championship since beating Wicklow in the qualifiers in 2010.
If Cavan were going to win anywhere, it was going to be at Brewster Park -- the scene of both their Ulster U-21 final victories in the past two seasons.
Many of those underage stars were on the field yesterday, McKiernan and Jack Brady leading the fight. The brilliance of Cavan's comeback, however, must be measured against Fermanagh's response to it.
After the first goal went in, Cavan's players visibly grew in self-belief but Fermanagh went into their shell, similar to their collapse in the Division 4 league final defeat to Wicklow.
The loss of David Givney towards the end of the first-half looked like it was a blow for Cavan, but once the first goal went in they started cleaning up around midfield, winning everything.
The Fermanagh defence parted straight down the middle. Kevin Tierney could have hit them for a fourth goal late on only for a good save by Gallagher, who couldn't be faulted for the goals.
Scorers -- Cavan: J Brady 0-5 (2f); G McKiernan, E Keating, N McDermott (1f) 1-1 each; D Reilly, N Smith, T Corr, K Tierney, D McKiernan 0-1 each. Fermanagh: D Kille 0-9 (8f); T Corrigan 0-3; P Ward 0-2 (1f); R Jones 0-1.
Cavan -- J Reilly; D Tighe, K Clarke, P O'Reilly; M McKeever, F Flanagan, D Reilly; D Givney, T Corr; N Smith, G McKiernan, R Flanagan; N McDermott, E Keating, J Brady. Subs: K Tierney for Givney (35), J McLoughlin for Clarke (h-t), D McKiernan for McKeever (46), K Meehan for Smith (67).
Fermanagh -- R Gallagher; J Woods, B Owens, B Cox; C Quigley, B Mulrone, N McGovern; S Lyons, R Jones; T McElroy, S McCabe, E Donnelly; T Corrigan, P Ward, D Kille. Subs: D McCusker for McElroy (52), M McGrath for Cox (54), Sean Quigley for Ward (63), M Jones for C Quigley (63), P Cosgrove for Mulrone (68).
REF -- B Cassidy (Derry).