GAA Football

Cavan get back on track with victory over Carlow at Breffni

  Eugene Keating found the net for Cavan in their Qualifier win over Carlow on Saturday
Kevin Og Carney at Kingspan Breffni Park

All-Ireland SFC Qualifying round 2A Cavan 2-13 Carlow 0-12

CAVAN bounced back from their Ulster SFC humbling by Tyrone and made light of a six-day turnaround to ease past Carlow and seal their place in the third round of the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers.

Terry Hyland’s men resurrected their blanket defensive system to easily smother a largely impotent Carlow side that relied far too heavily on an array of free-takers.

After the dust had settled on what was a tepid encounter played in humid conditions, Hyland was a proud as well as a relieved man.

“To play again within six days of going out of the Championship isn’t easy from a psychological and a physical point of view so fair play to the lads for becoming only the second team in history to manage to chalk up a win in such circumstances,” he said.

“The lads were a bit shell-shocked by the Tyrone result last time out but that’s only natural because they conceded 2-1 in 90 seconds which knocked them for six. The Tyrone result hurt them mentally as well as physically.”

Cavan opened in turbo-charged mode and quickly went 1-1 to noscore in front thanks, in the main, to a flicked goal from Eugene Keating in the third minute after Cian Mackey’s shot dropped on the edge of the small square.

For their part, Carlow struggled to convert their hard-won possession into scores, faced as they were by the twin vagaries of a contrary wind and the Cavan defensive set-up, which worked to a tee.

Carlow aped Cavan’s conservative, stifling formation.

For his part, Hyland made no apologies for his team reverting to type after their concession of 5-18 to Tyrone: “I suppose, psychologically, we were still hurting from the last day and we probably sat back a bit too much on the back of it but it was only natural that we were going to go a bit more defensive.

“In fairness to our lads, Carlow dropped back too and closed off a lot of avenues and made it hard for us in terms of getting our shot selection right.”

A pair of howitzer points from full-back Daniel St Ledger aided Carlow’s cause in the run up to halftime but Cavan’s executioner-inchief Gearoid McKiernan countered with a brace and turned provider for Killian Clarke to ease the raging-hot favourites into a 1-6 to 0-5 interval lead.

Carlow were far too reliant on their free-takers for their own good and they weren’t helped by the black carding of their go-to man Darragh Foley in the 44th minute by which stage they were chasing a 0-7 to 1-8 deficit.

Cavan laboured to chisel out another goal chance and the deal wasn’t sealed until the final whistle.

That said, once the homesters hit the jackpot again in the 51st minute after McVeety and Jack Brady combined to leave Cian Mackey with a virtual tap-in, Carlow looked for all the world like a beaten docket.

The Leinster minnows were laboured in their efforts thereafter to cash in on McVeety’s subsequent dismissal – for a second yellow card offence – but they never got a sniff of a goal which might have gotten them out of jail.

“I never thought we were in danger of losing our lead at any stage in the second half,” said Hyland.

“We upped the tempo in the second half and even when we went a man down, we were fairly comfortable in keeping the gap there between us.

“Carlow worked hard at closing us down and managed to cut down a lot of avenues for us but the lads stuck to the task and I thought they were very good value for the win.”

Hyland confirmed Cavan fans’ worst fears when disclosing fullforward David Givney is likely to miss the rest of the championship due to the groin injury he suffered against Tyrone.

The Cavan manager said it is uncertain whether the dynamic Martin Reilly will be fit to play this weekend in round three. The Killygarry ace was introduced as a 22nd minute substitute against Carlow but lasted only 18 minutes after dislocating a finger.

R Galligan; K Brady, R Dunne, P Faulkner; F Flanagan, C Moynagh, C Brady; T Corr (0-1), L Buchanan; D McVeety (0-1), G McKiernan (0-5, 0-1 frees), K Clarke; C Mackey (1-1), E Keating (1-1), S Johnston (0-3 frees); Subs: M Reilly for Buchanan (22), J Brady for K Brady (h-t), G Smith for Reilly (40), N Murray for C Brady (60). Black card: E Keating (52) replaced by T Hayes (0-1).
Carlow: R Molloy: B J Molloy, D St Ledger (0-5, 0-4 frees, 0-1 45), K Nolan; G Kelly, J Murphy (0-1), B Kavanagh; E Ruth (0-1), S Gannon; A Kelly (0-1), D O’Brien (0-1), H Gahan; C Blake (0-1 free), D Foley (0-2 frees), D Smithers. Subs: D Walshe for Smithers (42), D Moran for O’Brien (60), P O’Halloran for Blake (66), B Cawley for Nolan (69), C Bailey for Ruth (74); Black card: D Foley (45) replaced by D Lunney.
Referee: F Kelly (Longford)

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