GAA Football

Cavan have the tools to edge out Louth in tight battle at Kingspan Breffni

Conor Grimes makes his first start for Louth since 2016 tonight
Andy Watters

Allianz Football League Division Two: Cavan v Louth (tonight, Kingspan Breffni, 7pm)

TWO sides without a win meet tonight and the losers could find themselves bottom of a dog-eat-dog Division Two by tomorrow evening.

But it's still early days, and supporters of both counties have reasons to fancy their chances.

Cavan – who included 10 debutants in their starting line-up against Clare last weekend – battled back from seven points down to leave Ennis with a point that could prove very valuable in the final Division Two reckoning.

Caoimhin O’Reilly hit their first goal after 50 seconds, but they were second best until skipper Dara McVeety netted their second ‘major’ and Bryan Magee’s late free saw the Breffnimen claim a share of the spoils.

Meanwhile, Louth battled back from being six points adrift to cut Down’s lead to two in the closing stages of their opener at Drogheda.

Louth trailed by three points at half-time and their failure to use the roaring gale at their backs for the first 20 minutes of the second half ultimately cost them as the Mournemen kicked on to win with a bit to spare thanks to a late Connaire Harrison salvo. Despite defeat, Louth had at least signalled that they would not go down without a fight and manager Pete McGrath – in his first game at the helm – took heart from his side’s late rally.

“The team never quit,” he said.

“There were men who were driving the team on and it’s just a pity that we went so long in the second half with the breeze at our backs without scoring because that let Down off the hook.

“But the surge that got us back to within two – at that moment in time, if you were sitting in the stand you would have said ‘this could go either way now’ but Down got that bit of a break.”

Former Down and Fermanagh boss McGrath knows his side will need every bit of their fighting spirit in Cavan town tonight.

“We have seven matches and you go into every match determined to give a performance and get a good result,” he said.

“The Cavan match is going to be a big challenge but we’ll learn from the Down game and what we’ve seen and what we talk about will impact on how we approach the Cavan match, how we play it and the team we select.

“I think that both management and players will have learned a lot from the first game and there is a lot to be encouraged and enthused about from the performance.”

News that Conor Grimes will make his first start for the ‘Wee County’ since 2016 is a massive boost to McGrath and there was another reason to be cheerful when full-forward Ryan Burns was passed fit to start having missed the League opener

Last week McGrath gave debuts to full-back Emmet Carolan and corner-back James Craven while William Woods marked his debut by top scoring with five points.

McGrath has handed a debut to Conor Early at midfield for tonight’s game and he will partner Tommy Durnin with skipper Andy McDonnell switching to the half-forward line. Declan Byrne, Conall McKeever and Gerard McSorley drop to the bench.

Cavan manager McGleenan should also be able to field a stronger team tonight. The former Tyrone star introduced Conor Moynagh and Cian Mackey in Ennis and both look likely to start against Louth.

McGrath’s men travel as 3/1 outsiders which is a very tempting price and they should certainly make a game of this. However, Cavan get the nod to build on their gutsy draw last week and claim their first win of the season.

Cavan: TBC

Louth: C Lynch; J Bingham, E Carolan, J Craven; D Marks, B Duffy, A Williams; T Durnin, C Early; D Maguire, A McDonnell, J McEneaney; R Burns, C Grimes, W Woods

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