Monaghan leave wasteful Cavan on the brink
Monaghan 0-14 Cavan 1-8
Cavan's stay in the top flight looks like being as short as their previous spell there in 2017 as defeat to Monaghan virtually condemned them to relegation.
With a home match to Dublin still to come, only a three-way tie on four points with Monaghan and Roscommon and a superior score difference gives them any chance. That is as remote as some of their scoring attempts were here.
The absence of a cutting-edge attacker is really restricting Cavan and despite Cian Mackey's early goal and Gearoid McKiernan's seasonal return in the second half after a dislocated knee they could make little headway, accumulating eight first-half wides, with as many again dropping short in the game.
In contrast, Monaghan were much more efficient in the second half as they opened up with impressive counterattacking.
Once again Conor McManus was pivotal, scoring two inspiring points and winning crucial frees.
The impact off the bench of Ryan McAnespie and Jack McCarron was also felt. McAnespie's running complemented the accuracy of McCarron, who landed three points, two from play.
McCarron was sent off late on for a second yellow card while Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke was sent to the stand as his frustration with some of referee Brendan Cawley's decisions spilled over.
This victory gives Monaghan a strong chance of survival in the top flight for a sixth successive year but they may still need a win in Mayo in the final round to be certain.
They had failed to build on their opening-day win over Dublin, with losses to Roscommon and Galway really hurting.
It was a nervy, error-ridden first half with the spectre of relegation hanging over it and a championship meeting in nine weeks' time to consider.
Cavan got the perfect boost within a minute when Dara McVeety claimed a precision Raymond Galligan kick-out and was able to manoeuvre his midfield colleague Killian Clarke into position behind the Monaghan cover. From there Clarke squared to Mackey, whose finish off his left gave Rory Beggan no chance.
There were further goal chances, despite the cautious approach adopted by both sides.
Conor McCarthy put in Michael Bannigan with a clinical pass on 11 minutes but when Bannigan turned to his left blue shirts flooded him. Play swept up to the other end where Martin Reilly trumped McCarthy's pass with an even better effort to free Conor Madden, but goalkeeper Beggan got a foot to the shot.
McManus landed three frees and Monaghan didn't have a first score from play - their only one of the half - until Hughes sliced over in the 36th minute.
It was 1-3 to 0-6 at the break but Monaghan were much smarter after that as Cavan continually brought ball into contact, where Drew and Ryan Wylie and Colin Walshe thrived. Darren Hughes was also influential as Monaghan continued to surge.
McKiernan made a difference to Cavan with a fine point from a kick-out just after a Beggan free had lifted the home side 0-11 to 1-4 clear by the 57th minute.
But Monaghan's five-year experience of Division 1 football was always going to favour them down the home straight in a game of this importance and they were able to absorb Cavan's best shots after that.
The sides will meet again in the Ulster quarter-final on May 18, with Cavan hoping that they can make use of their home advantage to secure their first win in the provincial championship since 2016.
Scorers - Monaghan: C McManus 0-6 (4fs), J McCarron 0-3 (1f), R Beggan (2fs), C McCarthy (1f) 0-2 each, D Hughes 0-1. Cavan: C Mackey 1-1, G McKiernan 0-3 (2fs), R Galligan (f), N McKiernan (f), D McVeety, C Madden 0-1 each.
Cavan: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, C Moynagh; G Smith, C Brady, C Rehill; D McVeety, K Clarke; M Reilly, P Smith, N Murray; C Mackey, C Madden, N McKiernan. Subs: S Smith for P Smith (h-t), G McKiernan for Mackey (50), J Smith for N McKiernan (50), J Brady for Murray (62).
Monaghan: R Beggan; C Boyle, D Wylie, R Wylie; K O'Connell, V Corey, C Walshe; D Hughes, G Doogan; F Kelly, D Malone, S Carey; C McCarthy, C McManus, M Bannigan. Subs: R McAnespie for Doogan (h-t), J McCarron for Bannigan (44), K Duffy for Corey (48), O Duffy for Carey (57), B Kerr for O'Connell inj (74).
Referee: B Cawley (Kildare)
Sunday Indo Sport