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Cavan repel Fermanagh storm

By Declan Bogue

Fermanagh 0-11 Cavan 0-13: It will be a meeting of two old traditional powers of Cavan and Monaghan in the other Ulster semi-final, after the men from the Breffni county produced a disciplined performance to shut down the Fermanagh attack in Brewster Park.

All the concerns of security for the day within the county were left unfounded, especially in the Cavan rearguard which was impeccable in its tackling and workrate.

In such a finely-poised battle, any tactical or personnel switches were of crucial importance.

Before the game, the Fermanagh team that had been named in the programme followed the St Michael's Scout Band around the field.

Once that was taken care of, Eoin Donnelly, Tommy McElroy and Brian Cox walked into the team huddle to replace Barry Owens, (victim of a hamstring strain that had been causing bother for the last few weeks, according to manager Peter Canavan afterwards) James Sherry and Tomás Corrigan.

It seemed to unsettle them as Terry Hyland's men opened up a three-point margin in the opening six minutes.

Their play was full of fight and Fermanagh's long lay-off since their last league game against Meath might have left them somewhat flat-footed.

Gaining any sort of traction in the early stages was almost impossible for Fermanagh.

The ways in which the preliminary round win over Armagh benefited Cavan was evident; they were faster and more hungry for the break. Their defensive wall snarled and scraped and battered every Fermanagh attack into submission.

In identifying Shane McCabe as a key man of the Fermanagh attack, Jason McLoughlin was sent on a tracking role.

His role was to hold the diminutive Belcoo attacker up as reinforcements arrived and they did so time and time again to strip him of the ball.

The other method was to use Donnelly and Ryan Jones as battering rams, but that produced diminishing returns.

Declan McCusker was another threat going forward, but Cavan had an invisible forcefield across the 50 metre line that was practically impenetrable.

Cian Mackey produced an enormous first half, in one memorable example of doggedness he robbed both Marty McGrath and McElroy each time with no right to do so.

McGrath was throwing himself about too, putting in a big hit on Rory Dunne on 13 minutes that seemed to slow him down temporarily, but he was powerless to stop the flow as Niall McDermott helped himself to a point and a pointed free, bookended by points from Damien O'Reilly and the outstanding Mackey.

It was 26 minutes before Fermanagh raised a flag, with Ryan Jones punching a hole in the defence and holding off Damien O'Reilly to land a point. It was greeted by an ironic cheer by the Cavan following.

Tomás Corrigan came on as sub for the ineffectual Paul Ward and landed a point with his first touch. Declan McCusker also hit a point but Cavan were to assert themselves once more with two Eugene Keating scores as half-time loomed.

Donnelly completed a 40 yard run to drill the ball over, either side of wides from Jones and half-time sub Daniel Kille. The margin was cut to a point with a free from Kille and one from play by McGrath.

Cavan were able to stay one step ahead on the scoreboard and continued to dash the waves of Fermanagh attacks.

The home team's scores came in random fashion, such as when Corrigan's (pictured) shot looped into the air and Sean Quigley was able to fist over the bar, again cutting the deficit to a point.

Marty O'Brien skated into the danger area on 55 minutes to be upended by Mackey but Cormac Reilly adjudged the challenge to have occurred outside the box before Kille lofted over.

Another enterprising surge came from Shane McCabe who won a free off Jason McLoughlin. Kille duly converted to leave matters level on 57 minutes.

It took a full 10

minutes of jangling nerves, handling errors and mistakes before the next score. Cavan captain Alan Clarke brought the ball from deep and worked it into the left corner. Martin Dunne had little sight of the posts yet still steered it over from distance and an angle. On the sideline, Peter Canavan had one more roll of the dice when he threw Barry Owens on, but he was to concede a mindless foul on Keating after the ball had been played. It resulted in a simple free that Dunne missed. A minute later, the Cavan gaels man made amends from closer in, potting a free after a Brian Cox foul on McDermott.

There was one final effort when Kille drifted in a '45', but the ball was ushered to safety by Ronan Flanagan and with that, Cavan's first back-to-back wins in Ulster since 2005.

Fermanagh: C Snow; J Woods, B Cox, D Kelly; D McCusker (0-1), R McCluskey [Capt], M O'Brien; E Donnelly (0-1), M McGrath (0-1); C Quigley, S McCabe, R Jones (0-1); P Ward, S Quigley (0-1), T McElroy

Subs: T Corrigan (0-2) for Ward (29m), D Kille (0-4, 4f) for C Quigley (H-time), S Lyons for McGrath (52m), B Owens for S Quigley (65m)

Yellow cards: McCluskey (17), McCabe (54), S Quigley (40), Corrigan (65), Lyons (69)

Cavan: C Gilsenan; J McLoughlin, R Dunne, K Clarke; J McEnroe, A Clarke [Capt], R Flanagan; D O'Reilly (0-1), D Givney; C Mackey (0-1), J Brady, F Flanagan; N McDermott (0-2, 1f), M Dunne (0-5, 2f), E Keating (0-3). Subs: D McKiernan for McEnroe (28), M Reilly (0-1) for Brady (42), T Corr for McKiernan (51), N Murray for McDermott (71)

Yellow cards: Clarke (31), Dunne (62)

Referee: Cormac Reilly [Meath]

Attendance: 9,352.

Belfast Telegraph


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