NFL Division 2: Cavan promoted to Division One with victory over Galway
Cavan withstood strong Galway pressure to secure Division One football with a four-point win in Kingspan Breffni Park.
Terry Hyland's side claimed a fifth successive victory but it wasn't without some nervous moments as Galway, driven on by the superb Shane Walsh, pressed hard in the final quarter.
It took a goal line clearance from Jason McLoughlin in the 67th minute to prevent a Damien Comer goal that would have pushed Galway into a one-point lead at a crucial stage.
Late scores from Gearoid McKiernan, who hit five superb points, and Niall Murray made top-flight football safe for the Breffni men in a tense finish.
McKiernan was Cavan's attacking star but the performance of Dara McVeety throughout was very influential as he swept up breaks and carried forward intelligently.
Killian Clarke and David Givney, who presented himself as the perfect target man, also played big roles.
Cavan began nervously and fell 0-2 to 0-1 behind but then got a break in the eighth minute when Killian Brady's delivery, after they had disrupted a promising Galway attack at the other end, beat the cover and presented David Givney with a one-on-one with Galway goalkeeper Manus Breathnach. Givney obliged and the pressure was briefly lifted.
But Galway levelled by the 10th minute and then got a break themselves when Eoin Brannigan's fisted point attempt struck an upright and rebounded kindly for Patrick Sweeney to finish and establish a 1-4 to 1-1 lead.
Clarke surged forward for a point, Gary Sice responded with a 15th minute free but that was their last score of the half as Cavan took over and dominated, preventing their opponents from even getting a shot away.
Over the next 20 minutes they put pressure on the Galway kick-out, made some big tackles and hit six points without reply.
McKiernan led the charge so impressively from centre-forward with three points, his 'steal' on Danny Cummins in the build up to one lifting the crowd and bringing parity on 22 minutes.
Galway didn;t hit a wide in the first half but with Paul Conroy and Thomas Flynn picking up they got a better platform in the second half.
Walsh scored two points from play and always threatened when he ran at the Cavan defence.
But Cavan fully deserved the victory and had they been more clinical - they registered 13 wides overall - they could have been a lot easier on themselves.
Scorers - Cavan: G McKiernan 0-5, D Givney 1-1, R Galligan (2 45s), J Brady (2fs), E Keating all 0-2 each, K Clarke, N Murray, L Buchannan, D McVeety all 0-1 each.
Galway: S Walsh 0-4 (1f, 1 45), P Sweeney 1-0, G Sice 0-3 (3fs), E Brannigan 0-2, D Wynne, D Cummins, D Comer 0-1 each.
Cavan: R Galligan; P Faulkner, K Clarke, J McLoughlin; K Brady, C Moynagh, C Brady; T Corr, L Buchannan; D McVeety, G McKiernan, M Reilly; M Argue, D Givney, J Brady. Subs: N Murray for Argue (51), E Keating for Brady (56), C Mackey for Reilly (60), R Dunne for Buchannan BC (64), C Conroy for Corr (71).
Galway: M Breathnach; C Sweeney, D Kyne, D Wynne; G Bradshaw, G O'Donnell, L Silke; P Conroy, T Flynn; G Sice, E Brannigan, S Walsh; D Cummins, P Sweeney, D Comer. Subs: J Heaney for Cummins (49), A Varley for P Sweeney (54), S Denvir for Sice (63), E Hoare for Brannigan (71).
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Laois)
At the opposite end of the table, Meath produced a storming comeback to defeat Laois by 0-18 to 1-9 in Portlaoise.
Meath recovered from a poor start that saw them fall seven points behind to end up dominating the game following the sending off Laois forward Evan O’Carroll ten minutes into the second half.
Niall Donoher scored an early goal for the hosts but as the contest evolved, their relegation fears became more pronounced with Meath driving home their advantage with seven points shared by Mickey Newman and Graham Reilly.
Fermanagh also confirmed their Division 2 status when drawing 0-12 to 1-9 with Ulster rivals Tyrone.
However, Armagh were not so fortunate as they fell through the trapdoor to Division 3 despite beating Derry by 1-18 to 0-15 at the Athletic Grounds.
Armagh effectively won the game in the 2nd quarter as they hit 1-7 without reply with Miceal McKenna netting in injury time for Kieran McGeeney's men.