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Cavan crushed by Monaghan fightback

Cavan 0-15 Monaghan 0-16

By Declan Bogue

After the poison of Ballybofey seven days earlier, Monaghan and Cavan showed how you can bring every ounce of spite you can muster for a local derby, harness it into a football game and keep fans in the maw of a gripping drama from the first minute to the last.

As expected, Monaghan nudged their way home with five points in nine minutes to turn a four-point deficit into a lead as the game entered the final phase.

Such a result may have seemed inevitable, but Cavan brought a couple of ploys to the party and ran Monaghan every bit as hard as their 2013 Ulster semi-final meeting.

Instead of putting the sniping Martin Dunne in to start, Cavan manager Terry Hyland pushed the 6ft 5in Michael Argue up into full-forward, where he had six inches over direct marker, Drew Wylie.

It paid dividends five minutes in when a Damian O'Reilly dispatch was collected by Argue, who held off Wylie, turned and fisted over the bar.

Cavan would repeat the tactic with mixed returns, but it was the kind of plan that only needed to work once as they raced 0-4 to 0-1 ahead.

Monaghan were struggling to find fluidity and moved Paul Finlay inside, while they pulled Kieran Hughes out to midfield. Meanwhile, Neil McAdam executed a brilliant containing job on Cavan captain Gearoid McKiernan.

They also put significant pressure on debutant Cavan goalkeeper Ray Galligan but he nailed a long-range free in the first half.

McKiernan pushed up onto Vinny Corey and denied him a sweeper role, and in his first play in the more advanced position produced a lovely show-and-go to allow Cian Mackey to clip over.

McKiernan was to land the final point of the half to leave Cavan 0-9 to 0-7 up.

Farney manager Malachy O'Rourke sent 2013 All-Star Colin Walshe in for his first county action of the year, bookending his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final, while the reassuring presence of Dick Clerkin was soon on the sideline ready to be pitched into battle.

Despite that, Cavan raced four points ahead, Argue getting his second point and substitute Ciaran Brady arrowing over.

The Monaghan comeback might have got a boost when Tomas Corr appeared to foul Dessie Mone in the penalty area, but referee Padraig Hughes waved play on.

O'Reilly looked to have committed a second yellow offence with a foul on Kieran Hughes but miraculously escaped while Conor McManus tapped over the free. Darren Hughes then found himself with a clear view of goal but forced his shot over the bar.

Clever link-up play from Corey and Karl O'Connell put Clerkin in a great position to dink over with his left foot and Mone's superb strike drew the teams level before an incredible free from Kieran Hughes snatched the lead.

With four minutes left, Cavan were level again with their first point in 18 minutes, a Niall Murray ball being collected by substitute Martin Dunne, who instinctively kicked over on the turn.

From the next kickout, Conor McManus took possession underneath the stand and shrugged off marker Fergal Flanagan before steadying himself and looping over.

There was still ample time for Cavan to bring it to a replay.

While driving forward in waves, Corr was fouled by Darren Hughes and goalkeeper Galligan sauntered up to kick wide from 60 yards.

A minute later, Tom Hayes crossed a ball into the square and while Argue got his fist to the ball, it was deflected out for a '45', presumably for a touch off Rory Beggan although the Monaghan players debated the point.

Galligan got plenty of air on the placed kick, but once again it drifted wide.

Some patient play from Clerkin set up fellow replacement Walshe for a point and while Dunne responded with a free, Cavan merely ran out of road.

A replay may have been the fair result, but Monaghan have gone some way to balancing up their historical rivalry.

For the second successive year, Cavan are bound for the backdoor after a first-day defeat, with manager Hyland expecting no departures and hoping for a longer summer period.

Monaghan now progress to the Ulster semi-final, against the winners of next week's Brewster Park clash of Fermanagh and Antrim.

Belfast Telegraph


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