Tommy Carr celebrated his first win as manager of Cavan when the Breffni county left Casement Park with a two-point win over Antrim in yesterday’s Gaelic Life Group C clash.
The former Dublin star will not be cracking open the champagne just yet, but will be pleased with the improvement shown since last week’s 10-point loss to Queen’s.
New Antrim boss Liam Bradley, meanwhile, is still looking for his first win and will again rue a number of missed chances from his experimental side.
Corner forward Ciaran Close and midfielder Michael McCann had gilt-edged opportunities to find the net - one in each half – but on both occasions Fintan Reilly saved brilliantly between the Cavan posts.
The game’s only goal came through Cavan’s Paddy Gumley who fired past John Finucane on 22 minutes in the middle of a 1-3 contribution without reply for the visitors, after which they led by 1-5 to 0-2.
Six minutes later Ger Pearson added a point to gave Cavan a seven-point cushion but Antrim replied with points from McCann, Aodhan Gallagher and Close to trail 1-8 to 0-7 at the break.
It was a first half that had failed to catch fire. After initial sparring had the sides level at two points apiece, the wind-assisted Breffni men took control.
Gumley notched a ‘45’ and a free before Eddie O’Reilly scored the game’s first point from play on 18 minutes. Gumley got on the end of a long ball in from Cian Mackey to fire to the net, before Close stopped the rot for the Saffrons.
McCann had his shot tipped over by Fintan Reilly on 30 minutes, a point that would signal five Antrim points on the trot either side of half-time.
Antrim added two points just after the restart through Kevin Brady and Close before sub Jason O’Reilly raised the first of just three white flags for Cavan in the second half.
The home side continued to enjoy plenty of possession – and the wind advantage – but were simply not clinical enough in front of the posts. They chipped away at the Cavan lead, cutting the deficit to two points through McCann on 53 minutes.
Close saw his goal-bound shot saved when one-on-one with the keeper before Pearson and Eddie O’Reilly gave Cavan a bit of breathing space.
Close added his sixth point of the day in injury time and sub Colm Fleming competed the scoring with his first touch of the day but Cavan held out for a deserved win.
Antrim: J Finucane; C Maxwell, S McVeigh, A Douglas; T Scullion, P Carey, L Carlin; M McCann (0-3, 2f), B Hasson; A Gallagher (0-1), K Brady (0-1), D McAlernon, C Close (0-6), D Graham, G McAleese. Subs: K Cunningham for Douglas, D Edwards for Graham, N O’Connell for McAleese, C Creaney for McAlernon, K McGlinchey for Hasson, C Fleming (0-1) for Creaney (yellow card)
Cavan: F Reilly; M Cahill, P Reilly, E McCormack; P Brady (0-1), D O’Dowd, J McCutcheon; C Gallagher, N Walsh (0-1); C Mackey, A Reilly, E O’Reilly (0-3); P Gumley (1-3, 2f, one ‘45’), D Givney, G Pearson (0-2) Subs: J O’Reilly for (0-1f) for Gumley, L Reilly for Gallagher (yellow card), J Clarke for A Reilly, J Crowe for Brady, P Gumley for Cahill
Referee: C Branagan (Down)