Paul Fitzpatrick reports from Kingspan Breffni Park
IN THE BUILD-UP to this match, which is almost invariably decided by a goal, it was noted that four points is a very comfortable win and five, in this fixture, is a hammering which had occured just once in the last three decades.
That Cavan won this game by four is proof, then, that they managed their oldest foes with a measure of ease. The Breffni men – who had lost their last three championship matches in this derby by five points in total – built up an eight-point lead early in the second half and while Monaghan piled on the pressure, they stood tall in the closing stages.
Key to their victory was a magical performance from veteran Martin Reilly and heroic showings from Padraig Faulkner and Jason McLoughlin in the full-back line.
Cavan’s sole debutant, Conor Brady, opened the scoring after just 12 seconds and the home side quickly added a second when Niall Murray cut in and split the posts.
In the fifth minute, Cavan bagged their opening goal when Reilly – formerly on the books at Burnley FC – prised open the defence with a perfect ball to Conor Madden, who was felled in the square. Reilly slotted the resulting penalty low to Rory Beggan’s right and when the veteran again set Madden up for another, Mickey Graham’s side were 1-3 to 0-0 ahead and the Farney were reeling.
Beggan and McManus got them ticking with two frees but Cavan were playing with confidence and after McVeety won possession, talisman Gearoid McKiernan swung in a trademark looping point from the right.
Conor Brady and Thomas Galligan compete against Kieran Hughes.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Monaghan were wasteful in front of the posts throughout – they managed just 0-2 from their first 11 shots – but Cavan, who had the joint-best goal concession in the country in the league, defended very well with corner-back Jason McLoughlin superb.
Murray and McManus (free) traded scores before McKiernan slotted over another free after Madden was fouled when he seemed to be through for a goal.
A point from impressive newcomer Conor Rehill made it 1-7 to 0-3 for the hosts; again, McManus replied with a free but Madden had the final say with a well-taken point after a perfectly-weighted pass from Reilly as Cavan went in seven to the good.
They extended that lead to eight on the restart with a free from McKiernan but Monaghan, to their credit, upped the ante considerably and were the better team in the second half. They pushed up and did not allow Cavan to go short on kick-outs and, at times, penned the Breffni men into their own half for long periods.
A sublime point from McManus got the scoreboard ticking over for Monaghan again and one for Carey and a 45 from Beggan cut the gap to five.
Mickey Graham celebrates after the game with his daughter Lauren.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Reilly, who was everywhere, cleared off the goal-line and from a counter-attack – which Monaghan were susceptible to given the extent to which they had pressed forward – Dara McVeety fisted an important score.
But Monaghan, with sub Conor McCarthy punching holes in the Breffni rearguard, kept on coming.
He and his Scotstown team-mate Carey registered points before Ryan Wylie stormed forward to cut the gap to a goal.
Asked a big question, Cavan responded. From a rare attack, goalkeeper Galligan picked out Rehill who found full-back Padraig Faulkner for an inspirational point, which was then cancelled out by an equally impressive point from Faulkner’s opposite number, Conor Boyle.
of the team
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The large home support in the 13,496 attendance summoned up the loudest cheer of the day when Thomas Galligan won a good ball and set McKiernan up for the insurance point and while Malachy O’Rourke’s men poured forward, all they could muster was a free by Kieran Hughes, with sub Chris Conroy having already stroked one over from 45 metres at the other end.
Scorers for Cavan: Gearoid McKiernan 0-4 (0-2f), Martin Reilly 1-0 (pen), Niall Murray, Conor Madden 0-2 each, Padraig Faulkner, Conor Rehill, Conor Brady, Dara McVeety, Chris Conroy (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus 0-4 (0-3f), Rory Beggan 0-2 (0-1f, 1 45), Shane Carey 0-2, Kieran Hughes (0-1f), Conor Boyle, Conor McCarthy 0-1 each.
1. Raymond Galligan (Lacken)
2. Jason McLoughlin (Shannon Gaels)
3. Padraig Faulkner (Kingscourt Stars)
4. Conor Moynagh (Drumgoon)
5. Gerard Smith (Lavey)
6. Killian Clarke (Shercock)
7. Conor Rehill (Crosserlough)
8. Conor Brady (Gowna)
9. Gearoid McKiernan (Swanlinbar)
10. Martin Reilly (Killygarry)
11. Dara McVeety (Crosserlough)
12. Niall Murray (Cavan Gaels)
13. Oisin Kiernan (Castlerahan)
14. Thomas Galligan (Lacken)
15. Conor Madden (Gowna)
Subs: Ciaran Brady for McLoughlin (23 mins, temp), Ciaran Brady for Kiernan (45), C Conroy for Smith (52), C Mackey for Madden (56), J Brady for Moynagh (60, BC), S Smith for T Galligan (65), K Brady for McLoughlin (70)
1. Rory Beggan (Scotstown)
2. Drew Wylie (Ballybay)
3. Conor Boyle (Clontibret)
4. Ryan Wylie (Ballybay)
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5. Karl O’Connell (Tyholland)
6. Colin Walshe (Doohamlet)
7. Kieran Duffy (Latton)
8. Fintan Kelly (Clones)
9. Kieran Hughes (Scotstown)
10. Dessie Ward (Ballybay)
11. Dermot Malone (Castleblayney Faughs)
12. Shane Carey (Scotstown)
13. Ryan McAnespie (Emyvale)
14. Conor McManus (Clontibret)
15. Stephen O’Hanlon (Carrickmacross)
Subs: C McCarthy for McKenna (30 mins), K Duffy for Malone (h-t), M Bannigan for O’Hanlon (54), O Duffy for Ward (63), N Kearns for Carey (66), D Mone for O’Connell (BC, 70)
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