Cootehill Celtic survived a late scare from Lavey to gain themselves a hard earned senior championship victory this evening at Kingspan Breffni Park.
In a game where missed chances really cost Lavey late on, it was well-timed goals that made a world of difference for Ciaran O'Malley's team as strikes from Tom Hayes and Stevie O'Connor in each half put them on course for a first win in this competition in some time.
Last year's intermediate winners had fallen four behind early on in this contest, as Lavey outlet Shane Tierney tormented, before Hayes and Enda Hessin sprung them to life in the second quarter.
Black cards for Joey Jordan and Tierney were a serious blow for the New Inns outfit but they stayed right with their opponents despite shipping two goals, and could well have won it were it not for smacking the upright consecutively towards the end.
Cootehill held out though, with McCutcheon, Colm Smith and Hessin getting vital scores for them either side of O'Connor's second-half strike.
It took just 40 seconds for Tierney to open the scoring for Lavey, pointing over from his left corner station, before Smith earned a free in an ideal position to tap over off his left boot.
That was as good as it got for Cootehill though over the ensuing 10 minutes as Lavey started to dominate in the centre and fed Tierney inside for his second, which Darren Jordan backed up with a free to quickly double his side's advantage.
Tierney was red-hot early on and it was no surprise to see him aimed at again, as Ray Cullivan fed him for his third point in five minutes before Dean Rutherford broke forward from centre-field and cracked over with a chance of a goal on.
At the other end, Dermie Connolly latched on to a high pass from Smith, only to see his shot blocked on the line, with Hessin on hand to convert the resultant 45.
Hessin and Tom Hayes, the deadly combo which helped shoot the Celts to last year's Tommy Gilroy Cup crown, each added points to finally get Cootehill motoring and they were very nearly in front when Connolly rocketed another goal opportunity off Conor Martin's crossbar.
Lavey regrouped and settled themselves with a Cullivan free before seeing key defender Jordan blacked carded after impeding a Cootehill break, although the Lavey players argued different, allowing Hessin to bring his side within one.
Two Darren Jordan points (one a free) was just the right tonic for the black and whites, and when Tierney intercepted a stray pass and landed another they had regained a foothold.
Four points is a dangerous lead against goal merchants though and their opponents were level after a profitable two-minute spell just before half-time.
A wonderful sweeping move forward, conducted by McCutcheon and Smith, O'Connor through and the corner-forward offloaded to Tom Hayes, who punched low to the net.
It was a huge setback for Lavey, who had put in a huge shift and hit some form during the first 30 minutes, but sure enough their lead was gone by the half when the chance of the white flag presented itself to Hessin, who made it 0-9 to 1-6 when the teams went in at the break.
A black card for Tierney two minutes into the second-half definitely wasn't the restart Lavey were hoping for. Their marksman was given his marching order for a pull back on opposing full-back Barry McGahan, and marker Ryan O'Reilly could count himself lucky not to join him on the line for a similar incident.
It wasn't a popular decision amongst the Lavey support in attendance and McCutcheon moving the town side in front for the first time made the taste even sourer.
McCutcheon and Stephen Jordan kept it at one but Lavey could we have had their lead back had Josh Hayes not pulled off a tremendous block on Karl Duke, who looked certain to hit the net. They'd have to settle for a Duke point instead and Rutherford had them back in front momentarily before disaster struck them again.
After O'Reilly broke out of defence, he raced forward to feed Tom Hayes and the Cavan senior jinked his way through to find O'Connor off his right shoulder and he buried the ball low to Martin's near post.
It left Lavey with a hill (not a mountain to climb), with Smith pushing them three adrift and plenty of time left on the clock. Darren Jordan and Hessin maintained the difference heading towards the closing stages when luck completely deserted the would-be losers.
Darragh Conaty saw a goal chance come off the butt of the post and, amazingly, Lavey would hit the post three more times, on separate attacks, in effort of a point. It cost them dear. They'd instead only register overs from Darren Jordan (free) and Duke which outweighed a Smith effort the far end, but ultimately left them with a two-point defeat to mull over as they now get set to regroup for the backdoor.
Cootehill: Ryan Carroll; Sean O'Connor, Barry McGahern, Eoin Roche; Ryan O'Reilly, Joshua Hayes, Dean Connolly; Brian Sherlock, John McCutcheon (0-2); Dermie Connolly, Enda Hessin (0-4, 1f 1 45), Colm Smith (0-3, 2f); Stevie O'Connor (1-0), Tom Hayes (1-1), Caoimhin Carney (0-1). Subs: Damien Sherlock for C Carney (43mins), Neil McCuskey for D Connolly (55), Mark Mullen for C Smith (58), Glen Nulty for E Roche (60).
Lavey: Conor Martin; David Conroy, Fergal Smith, Joey Jordan; Aaron Smith, Stephen Jordan (0-2), Darren Monaghan; Ray Cullivan (0-1, 1f), Dean Rutherford (0-2); Paul Gilchreest, Karl Duke (0-2), Darren Jordan (0-5, 3f); Darragh Conaty, Finbar Jordan, Shane Tierney (0-4). Subs: Kevin Donohoe for J Jordan (22mins, BC), Jake Buckley for S Tierney (33, BC), James Tierney for D Conaty (56).
Ref: Stephen McKiernan (Kildallan)Tweet