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Conor O'Hare goals as Down edge poor contest

NFL Division 2: Cavan 0-8 - Down 1-9

By Paul Fitzpatrick

A desperately poor, error-ridden clash was decided by a 63rd minute goal from Conor O'Hare as visitors Down ended Cavan's unbeaten Division 2 run at Breffni Park.

Terry Hyland's men were on top early on but still found themselves 0-3 to 0-1 in arrears after two Donal O'Hare frees and a speculative effort from full-back Luke Howard which bounced in front of Cavan goalkeeper Conor Gilsenan and cleared the crossbar.

O'Hare added another free and although Cavan were still creating chances, they struggled to win primary possession in the inside forward line, a problem which has reared its head since the winter defections of Eugene Keating, David Givney and Kevin Tierney.

The match turned into an arm wrestle and, in the end, Down made less mistakes and took more chances in a poor contest which produced 50 frees and was played in heavy rain and a swirling gale for the most part.

Niall McDermott with two frees and Martin Reilly with another were responsible for all of Cavan's first-half total as they went in trailing by 0-6 to 0-3 after Jerome Johnston and the impressive Kevin McKernan, who led the line well for his side, tacked on scores for wind-assisted Down.

Playing with the breeze in the second half, Cavan started well, with corner-back Jason McLoughlin booming over a great score from the wing, Martin Dunne adding another and McDermott levelling it with a free by the 43rd minute.

That was a good as it got, though. Down hit the front again through Damien Turley and McKernan and although Cavan replied through McDermott, they then lost key defender Ronan Flanagan to a second yellow card following a high tackle.

Dunne tied the match once more with a free but Down now had the numerical advantage and finished stronger.

Sub Arthur McConville opened the Cavan defence with a sublime cross-field ball to Mark Poland, who fed O'Hare for a close-range finish.

Cavan pressed hard for the goal they needed but walked into a red and black haymaker - Down soaked it up and then hit them late on the break, the Mournemen driving at pace out of defence and defender Conall McGovern fisting over the insurance point.

Cavan: C Gilsenan, J McLoughlin (0-1), R Dunne, K Brady, R Flanagan, F Flanagan, D O'Reilly, K Clarke, G McKiernan, P Smith, D McVeety, M Reilly (0-1f), M Lyng, M Dunne (0-2, 1f), N McDermott (0-4f)

Subs: B Reilly for Lyng (46 mins), C Mackey for McVeety (69 mins), B Fitzpatrick for M Reilly (69 mins)

Down: K Gordon, D O'Hagan, L Howard (0-1), D Turley (0-1), P Devlin, N Madine, C McGovern (0-1), B McArdle, P Turley, J Johnston (0-1), K McKernan (0-2), D O'Hanlon, M Poland, C Laverty, D O'Hare (1-3, 2f)

Subs: R Boyle for McArdle (10 mins), G Collins for O'Hagan (23 mins), A Carr for P Turley (27 mins), C Garvey for Madine (44 mins), A McConville for Johnson (48 mins), C Maginn for Poland (68 mins)

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh)

Belfast Telegraph

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