New start, but same old problems for Down
Down 1-09 Cavan 2-11
Down were served an opening-day reminder that progress may not be easily achieved this year.
For new manager Jim McCorry, hopes of a winning competitive debut in this tepid Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup tie glowed brightly in the first half before being clinically extinguished by a two-goal blast from Cavan's Martin Reilly and a subsequent reign of authority from their midfield.
And Mourne boss McCorry hinted afterwards that he will be seeking rather more intensity and commitment as the competition unfurls.
"Because of the fact that we had a number of players unavailable to us, there were guys who got their chance but maybe did not perform as well as they can," said McCorry, "You would expect players to wear the red and black with a bit more pride.
"We coughed up possession too easily and we tried five different midfield combinations. It was disappointing the amount of ball we gave away so cheaply."
McCorry, though, hailed the efforts of his full-back line of Darren O'Hagan, Luke Howard and Gerard Collins and praised the contribution of Paul Devlin in the engine-room.
"On an individual front there are pluses to be taken from this game but from a team perspective it is a disappointing result," added O'Hagan.
Down looked sharp and positive in the early stages yet even though Cavan lacked invention up front they stayed in touch.
And when Martin Reilly drilled home a harshly-awarded 28th penalty by referee Barry Cassidy, it marked a complete transformation in the contest.
Two minutes later Martin Reilly slammed in another goal and at half-time Cavan led by 2-4 to 0-6 with debutants Chris McKay and Gerard Collins sharing in the hosts' very modest first-half tally.
Cavan cut loose in the third quarter and after Devlin had missed a penalty just when Down badly needed a pick-me-up, Terry Hyland's side swept into a 2-8 to 0-6 lead by the 47th minute.
Down salvaged a modicum of pride when skipper Conor Laverty flashed the ball to the net entering the last quarter but with Gearoid McKiernan, Jack Brady and man of the match Martin Reilly very much to the fore in terms of snapping up scores, the visitors never looked in danger.
McCorry did not mince his words in assessing his side's overall effort, either.
"We did not play as a team on this occasion and I thought we looked a bit heavy-legged for some reason.
"Our numbers are down but I don't want to be making excuses. We had 15 players missing because of university calls and the fact that Warrenpoint are in the All-Ireland Intermediate club series while we also have long-term injuries but Cavan's numbers were also down and they were trying out players," added McCorry.
DOWN: S Kane; D O'Hagan, L Howard, G Collins 0-1; D Turley, N Madine, B McArdle; K Anderson, C McKay 0-1; P Devlin 0-4 (1f, 1'45'), C Maginn, K McKernan; C Laverty 1-1, A McConville 0-1, D O'Hare 0-1 (f). Subs: C Crilly for Anderson (34 mins), D McKay for C McKay (half-time), M Magee for McConville (46), C Garvey for Maginn (50), C McGovern for O'Hare (67).
CAVAN: J Farrelly; J Hayes, R Dunne, J McLoughlin; D McVeety 0-1, D O'Reilly, P Smith; G McKiernan 0-3, K Clarke; C Conroy, B Reilly 0-3 (2f), M Reilly 2-1; R Flanagan, B Fitzpatrick, J Brady 0-2. Subs: P Tinnelly for Conroy (14 mins), T Hayes 0-1 for Fitzpatrick (25), M McKeever for Tinnelly (45), N Murray for Smith (63), D Wright for B Reilly (66).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).