Cavan Gaels 'dig deep' for narrow Ulster win
October 22, 2007
Cavan senior football champions, Cavan Gaels had to 'dig deep' to overcome a gallant St. Eunan's, Letterkenny side in the preliminary round of Ulster SF club champions on Sunday, 21st of October at Kingspan/Breffni Park, Cavan on a scoreline of 0-8 to 0-7.
The visitors dominated the opening quarter of the game, and they were good value for 4 points lead after dictating the pace of the game from the off. Indeed, that lead could have been much greater had John Haran goal been allowed in the 13th minute - it was disallowed for overcarrying by Fermanagh referee, Martin Higgins - a decision which many felt was extremely harsh.
Cavan Gaels got their first point of the game in the 18th minute - a pointed free from Anthony Forde. This score seemed to settle the side and they finished the half well with three further points to be level at the break 0-4 apiece.
St. Eunan's started the second-half in determined fashion with a Paddy McGowan free after two minutes. However, that was the last time they held the lead. The Gaels were now coming to grips with their opponents all over the field and with two pointed frees from Sean Johnston they took the lead in the 43rd minute. But St. Eunan's urged on by their vocal support levelled the game at 0-6 with the match entering the final quarter and all to play for.
However, like the St. Eunan's side in the opening quarter the Gaels overplayed the ball in front of goal. Minor star, Martin Dunne who came on for the injured Seanie Johnston regained the lead for the Cavan town side from a pressure free, and with the game entering its final minutes Michael Lyng scored another free for the home side.
St. Eunan's were now living off scraps, but they continued to battle. Their only reward was a point from Paddy McGowan deep into injury time - too little too late!
Cavan Gaels will be delighted to get this game out of their system. Against a more lethal side in the opening twenty minutes of the game they could have suffered badly. However, to their credit they never lost their focus, and once they settled especially in the second-half they looked the superior side. They will be first to admit they have major improvement all round if they are to go to Casement Park, Belfast on November 4th and come away with a win over the Antrim champions, St. Gall's.
Many of their key players struggled for long periods in this game, and a noticeable lack of penetration in attack in the second-half when they were on top must be a worry to manager Malachy O'Rourke - who took over the role of Fermanagh team-manager last week. He will be hoping that experienced forwards such as Mickey Graham and Seanie Johnston will be fit for the Belfast trip on November 4th as a tally of eight points won't be enough for them to come out of the Belfast venue with a win.
St. Eunan's on the otherhand will know they let this one get away. They dominated the opening twenty minutes of the game, set up numerous scoring opportunities during that period, but alas they were found wanting as an attacking force. The Haran goal which was disallowed at the end of the first quarter was a vital decision, and one that changed the course of the game. It didn't go their way, and in championship football you need the 'rub of the green' especially in a close contest.
The leading question now is would Brendan Devenney have made a difference? As one St. Eunan's supporter remarked during the game - a Brendan Devenney on one leg would have caused untold damage in that opening quarter as the Cavan town defence was 'all over the shop'. He was sorely missed on this occasion - but in saying that the Letterkenny side have their chances to win the game, but at the end of the day didn't take them!
Cavan Gaels - Eoghan Elliott; C. Collins, Darren Rabbitte, Shane McGlade; Gavin Duffy, Eamon Reilly, P. Smith; Enda King, Niall Walsh; Kevin Downes, A. Forde 0-1, D. Reilly; Seanie Johnston 0-4 from frees, Sean Higgins, Michael Lyng 0-2, one free.
Subs - Gearoid Collins for Gavin Duffy; Paul O'Donnell for Kevin Downes (blood sub); Martin Dunne for Seanie Johnston (injured).
St. Eunan's, Letterkenny - D. Martin; D. McClafferty, M. McGowan 0-1, M. McClafferty; E. Doherty, C. Ryan, E. Brennan; John Haran, Rory Kavanagh; C. Sharkey, D. McGinley 0-1, K. Rafferty; P. McGowan 0-3, 2 frees, C. Dunne 0-1 from a free, Ross Wherrity 0-1.
Subs - B. Roache for K. Rafferty; D. Molloy for C. Sharkey injured; Sharkey for D. Molloy; B. McDermott for D. McGinley.
Referee - Martin Higgins from Fermanagh.
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