Cavan v Antrim: Cunningham is on fire as Saffrons march to the top
Cavan 1-8 Antrim 2-13
Antrim's footballers moved to the top of Division Three on Saturday night following a comprehensive victory over Cavan at Breffni Park where Lamh Dearg corner forward Paddy Cunningham sparkled with a personal tally of eight points.
“I'm delighted with the way they have applied themselves since the turn of the year. Even though the St Galls lads are otherwise occupied at the moment, I couldn't ask more of the present squad,” said Saffrons manager Liam Bradley.
In a tightly contested first half, excitement was in short supply until Antrim capitalised on an error by Cavan fullback Tomas Corr on the half hour.
The ball spilled into Tomas McCann's path from a Cunningham free kick and he ruthlessly fired the ball past goalkeeper Fintan Reilly from the edge of the square.
Moments earlier Antrim had a real let off when David Givney's beautifully flighted curling shot came back off the crossbar and post with John Finuance well beaten. The visitors grasp on the 1-4 to 0-5 lead lasted six minutes before Gareth Smith's 35 metre point from play was followed by Michael Raymond Galligan's punched goal which was set up for him by Michael Lyng.
However as half time loomed, another Cunnigham free and a long range effort by Brendan Herron's drew the sides level at 1-6 to 1-6.
Smith's fourth score of the match gave Cavan the lead for the last time in the 39th minute before Cunningham, responding to Michael Polllock's quick free kick, burst through to level the match for a sixth time.
Herron, Cunnigham and Tomas McCann established a four point lead by the hour mark before the cracks in the Cavan defence were opened wide as Michael McGill drilled in a right foot shot.
Leading 2-11 to 1-7, the home side virtually capitulated and managed only one more score from a Mark McKeever free as Cunningham with his eighth point and Deaglan O'Hagan's effort from the 40 metre line made the victory complete.
“The main object this evening was to get two league points, said Bradley who is already planning for the next game against Fermanagh on March 6.
“These games are never easy and we're in a good place now and there's a great spirit in the squad.”
Cavan: F Reilly; Sheridan, Corr, Cahill; McKeever (0-2, 1f), McCutcheon, Clarke; McGuigan, Walsh; Givney, Smith (0-4, 3f), Mackey; M Reilly, Galligan (1-2, 2f), Lyng. Subs: P Reilly (for Sheridan), Flanagan (for M. Reilly), E Reilly (for Mackey), Brennan (for Lyng), Hannon (for Walsh).
Antrim: Finucane; D McCann, Doherty, Boyle; Scullion, Crozier, O'Hagan (0-1); M McCann, Herron (0-2); Close, T McCann (1-2), Loughery; Cunningham (0-8, 4f), M Magill (1-0), Pollock. Subs: Douglas (for Doherty), G O'Boyle (for Close), Brady (for Pollock).
Referee: Robert O'Donnell (Donegal).