Allianz Football League: Division Two half-time review: Cavan heading the field ahead of tough finish
A SIEGE mentality is nothing new but when Mattie McGleenan says a lot of people had his table-topping Cavan side earmarked for possible relegation, he isn’t wrong.
Having surged upwards on the wave of under-21 success, the Breffni confidence took a dent last year despite a respectable enough show in Division One and a narrow defeat by Monaghan in Ulster.
Their colossal turnover of players over the winter left many thinking they would struggle to mount a serious challenge but past the midway point, they sit clear at the top having just won in Cork far more impressively than the scoreline suggests.
They will be fancied to beat Down and with that little bit of a margin for error and their tails up, they will be very well placed heading into the title run-in ties with rivals Roscommon and Tipperary, the latter a potential final-day decider in Kingspan Breffni.
Roscommon seemed to have taken the early initiative with a thrilling comeback win over Tipp in Thurles in round two but they squandered it with a flat display at home to Down, who could well be glad of those two surprise points come the end of an exceptionally tight campaign.
Pete McGrath’s early weeks in Louth haven’t gone to play and they’ve been cannon fodder at the foot of the table, losing all four games without scoring a single goal, them and Wicklow the only sides in the country with that particular unwanted record.
The rest of it is typically Division Two. Two points separate second-top Tipperary from second-bottom Meath, albeit the table does have a discernible shape about it that might not be too far from its final look.
Clare’s win in Newry last week gives them a fighting chance and with Louth set for Ennis on the final day, you’d expect them to reach six points. Meath will be equally confident that they will step out of bother before the end, although they’re unlikely to achieve their traditional third-place finish at this stage.
It leaves Down, after a promising start, looking nervously over their shoulders. They have to travel to both Breffni and Pairc Tailteann, while hosting Tipperary in between knowing they’ll need at least one more win to stay up.
Cork remain nothing if not unpredictable and, facing both Meath and Clare over the next fortnight, they could have a big say in the fate of those beneath them, even if their own is likely to be secure.
Who’ll be in the final? Roscommon and Tipperary
Who’ll be relegated? Louth and Meath
Results and fixtures
January 27: Clare 1-12 Cavan 2-9; Cork 1-16 Tipperary 3-16
January 28: Louth 0-11 Down 1-14; Roscommon 2-12 Meath 2-12
February 3: Cavan 3-17 Louth 0-13
February 4: Down 0-10 Cork 1-13; Meath 0-21 Clare 0-7; Tipperary 3-9 Roscommon 1-17
February 11: Clare 0-11 Tipperary 0-11; Cork 2-11 Louth 0-10; Roscommon 0-7 Down 0-12
February 18: Cavan 2-14 Meath 1-12
February 24: Tipperary 2-15 Meath 1-10
February 25: Cork 0-11 Cavan 0-14; Down 1-10 Clare 1-12; Louth 0-12 Roscommon 1-21
March 10/11: Cavan v Down, Tipperary v Louth, Clare v Roscommon, Meath v Cork
March 17: Cork v Clare
March 18: Down v Tipperary, Louth v Meath, Roscommon v Cavan
March 25: Cavan v Tipperary, Clare v Louth, Meath v Down, Roscommon v Cork
Conor Sweeney (Tipperary) 2-23 (2-0p, 0-15f)
Diarmuid Murtagh (Roscommon) 2-14 (0-7f)
Mark Collins (Cork) 1-15 (0-5f)
Padraig McKeever (Meath) 0-16 (0-10f)
Ryan Burns (Louth) 0-14 (0-12f, 0-2 45s)
Colm O’Neill (Cork) 1-11 (0-7f, 0-1 45)
Liam McGrath (Tipperary) 2-8 (0-3f)
Eoin Cleary (Clare) 0-13 (0-10f)
Caoimhin O’Reilly (Cavan) 1-10 (0-6f)
Michael Quinlivan (Tipperary) 3-3 (0-1 45)
Donie Smith (Roscommon) 2-6 (1-0p, 0-3f, 0-1 line ball, 0-1 45’)