Down bow out despite late scoring burst in win over Cavan

Conor Laverty’s side were edged on scoring difference by Armagh

Down v Cavan Finn McElroy come under pressure from James Galligan, Jason McLoughlin and Oisin Brady Picture: Adrian Donohoe (Adrian Donohoe Photography )

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section B, round three Down 2-15 Cavan 1-15

DOWN finished with a flurry to overcome Cavan in a thrilling game with many twists and turns, but they don’t advance in the Dr McKenna Cup. Still, it was a worthy and exciting work-out for both teams.

Cavan led by a goal at the break and they were full value to be in front with their direct approach, but fortunate too that Down’s shooting malfunctioned for the entire second quarter.

With hardly a breeze but Baltic-cold, the football served up was in played in the spirit most people want to see, even though a little rough around the edges as you expect in January.

Cavan took the early lead with Paddy Lynch (45) and half-back Oisin Kiernan curling over from a tight angle. Down replied with four points on the trot in a 12-minute period, and after 18 minutes they failed to score for the rest of the half despite enjoying a bagful of chances. Six wides and four shots dropped short was a frustrating watch for the Down faithful.

Loughinisland’s Oisin Savage impressed and he scored three first half scores, Liam Kerr struck over after Pat Havern’s perfect long-range pass, while Havern drilled over after jinking through a couple of Cavan shirts.

Lynch (free) and James Smith hit back with points as the Blues came charging through again. On 17 minutes Brian O’Connell somehow bundled the ball into the net – his initial shot struck a Down knee but rebounded off the Cavan half-back and into the net.

Cavan might have had another goal shortly after that, but John O’Hare made a superb point-blank save.

Cavan’s play was a little more measured and they preferred dropping the ball long in top of Brady with some joy, while Down’s attack involved a little more risk but they didn’t get the reward until the second half.

Odhran Murdock’s point on 18 minutes, left Down trailing 0-6 to 1-4 and the Mournemen should have added to their tally. Andrew Gilmore and Carryduff’s Pearse McCabe, in his debut season, watched shots fall short.

Down were finding gaps in the Cavan defence, but failed to punish while at the other end Cavan got some joy with Brady causing the Mourne defence problems. He tagged on two points before the break to give Raymond Galligan’s side a 1-6 to 0-6 lead.

This was entertaining end-to-end stuff and the clinical Cavan stretched their lead as Tiarnan Madden was on target and Oisin Brady’s stroked over his fourth point. Down looked certain to end their barren spell but Gilmore’s 21-metre free dropped short, much to groans in the stands.

Still, Down were creating chances and it took captain Pierce Laverty to turn the tide with his side’s first score in 30 minutes. Liam Kerr followed with a converted free to close the gap to four points and then super-sub-Rory Mason rattled the net after great link-up play from Havern and Savage.

Burren’s Odhran Murdock soon bustled his way through the Cavan defence before lashing into the net to give Down a two-point lead.

Lynch’s third point cut Down’s led to a point, then Padraig Faulkner levelled (2-08 to 1-11) and there was still 15 minutes to play.

Brady’s fifth point and Havern’s second of the evening couldn’t split the sides then substitutes Jack Tully and Jack McCartan traded scores, both with their first touch, before star turn Brady steered over his sixth and seventh points respectively.

The game was in the first of five additional minutes when Paul Quinn and Havern levelled. With the bit between their teeth Savage put Down in front again and Havern’s fourth doubled their lead, while Mason’s converted free at the death sealed a dramatic Down win.

Down J O’Hare; P Fegan, R McEvoy, F McElroy; D Guinness, P McCabe, P Laverty (0-1); O Murdock (1-1) J Flynn; G McKibben, L Kerr (0-2, 0-1 free); J Guinness; A Gilmore, P Havern (0-4), O Savage (0-4).

Subs R Mason (1-1) for P McCabe (h-t), J McCartan (0-1) for Gilmore (39), P Quinn (0-1) for J Guinness (39), C Francis for G McKibben (41), N McParland for Flynn (56), A Doherty for McElroy (61)

Cavan F O’Rourke; O Kiernan (An Dinn), K Clarke, K Brady; J McLoughlin, O Kiernan (Caislean Reathain), B O’Connell (1-0); J Galligan (0-1), P Faulkner (0-1); T Madden (0-1), O Brady (0-7), G Smith, P Lynch (0-3, 0-1 free, 0-1 45), J Smith (0-1), C O’Reilly.

Subs R Brady for J Smith (h-t), E Finnegan for K Clarke (41), P Smith for O’Connell (47), J Tully (0-1) for C O’Reilly (51), P Smith for T Madden (67), C McGovern for G Smith (68)

Referee Diarmuid Boylan (Monaghan)