Wednesday 18 September 2019

Jonhston points Gaels in direction of county title

Cavan Gaels 0-13 Castlerahan 0-8

Sean Johnston of Cavan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Sean Johnston of Cavan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile Sportsdesk

Cavan Gaels captured their first county SFC title since 2014 with a composed and controlled display in a fractious final at Kingspan Breffni Park.

The county town side led from gun to tape but were helped by Castlerahan's failure to cash in on the only two goal chances in the match.

The game was played in perfect conditions but was a poor affair with a spate of off-the-ball affairs pock-marking proceedings and referee Sheridan seeing fit to dismiss two Castlerahan players and one from the winners-elect.

Ultimately, the Oliver Plunkett Cup will winter in Cavan town because the Gaels proved to much more efficient at the business end of the field.

Castlerahan were their own worst enemies and, in gunning for their first blue-riband title, will particularly rue a wasteful seven-minute period during the first half.

Firstly, Castlerahan's Paul Smith skied his shot over the black spot as the whites of Cavan Gaels 'keeper Ciaran Flynn's eyes came into focus. Worse was to follow though for the underdogs when Cian Mackey's exocet from the penalty spot - after Daniel Lynch was brought down - flashed wide of the junction of crossbar and upright.

To rub salt into Castlerahan's wounds, Seanie Johnston and Robert Maloney-Derham split the posts with consummate ease.

Although the Gaels were almost as goal-shy, they proceeded to kill the game off by stealth with man-of-the-match Johnston's points pivotal to steering his side into a 0-7 to 0-2 interval lead.

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The chasing team came out for the second half with all guns blazing and textbook points from Oisin O'Connell, Oisín Kiernan and Mackey served to cut their deficit to three, 0-5 to 0-8 after 38 minutes.

That was as good as it got though for the Ballyjamesduff-based crew as the Gaels took Castlerahan's best shots and yet remained on the front foot.

In a game that constantly simmered but failed to boil over, the would-be champions had defender Levi Murphy dismissed ten minutes from time.

Castlerahan kept nipping away at their opponents' heels late on, but they were to pay dearly for their first-half profligacy.

In a frenetic run-in, Kiernan's point (62) was sandwiched by the dismissals of Castlerahan duo Cormac Daly and Stephen Cooney.

SCORERS - Cavan Gaels: S Johnston (2f) 0-5; N Smith, R Maloney-Derham, M Dunne (1f) 0-2 each; B Fortune, D Meehan (0-1). Castlerhan: O Kiernan (1 '45) 0-2; C McEnroe (f), P Smith, C Daly, O O'Connell, C Mackey (f), S Brady 0-1 each.

Cavan Gaels: C Flynn; L Fortune, N Murray, K Meehan; S Murray, B Fortune, L Murphy; P Graham, R Maloney-Derham; N Smith, M Lyng, A Graham; P O'Connor, S Johnston, M Dunne. Subs: D Sexton for S Murray (42); D Meehan for A Graham (49); S Fitzsimons for B Fortune (B.C, 61); V Coyle for P O'Connor (62).

Castlerahan: J Leahy; S Cooney, O Kiernan, E O'Connell; P Smith, F Reilly, P Smith; C Daly, D Wright; B Coleman, R Flanagan, D Lynch; S Brady, C Mackey, E Flanagan. Subs: O O'Connell for B Coleman (h/t); C McEnroe for D Lynch (43); P Brady for S Brady (62); G Daly for E Flanagan (64).

REF - G Sheridan (Mullahoran).


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