Cavan break Division One duck with hard-fought win over Mayo in Castlebar

AlIianz Football League Division One: Mayo 0-15 Cavan 1-14

YOU could have been forgiven for thinking that Cavan had just secured some silverware in Castlebar yesterday as the Breffnimen and their supporters celebrated a famous win.

There were great scenes at a sunny MacHale Park after the final whistle sounded as the visitors and their supporters savoured their first victory in the top flight since 2004.

Raging hot favourites Mayo had no answer to Cavan’s drive, intensity and guile in the closing stages as late points from Gearóid McKiernan, Dara McVeety and substitute Joe Dillon secured a morale-boosting win. 

Mullahoran midfielder McKiernan was the star of the show for the winners, shooting 1-5, including the ‘golden goal’ that turned the game on its head two minutes into first half stoppage time.

The Breffni Blues never looked back after that.

“They were absolutely fantastic,” said manager Mattie McGleenan afterwards.

“We needed extra players to stand up and perform today and, in fairness, that’s what happened, that’s why we won.

“We had a team performance. We’ve had individuals playing well like last week, six or seven of them for 10 or 15 minutes. We needed everybody to turn up today.

“And that’s the pleasing thing; that Cavan turned up today in their entirety and that gives us a great bounce going into the Kerry game next week.”

This was Mayo’s third defeat in five games and the likes of injured leading lights like Ger Cafferkey, Aidan O’Shea, Seamie O’Shea, Jason Doherty and Diarmuid O’Connor were conspicuous by their absence.

Stephen Rochford couldn’t hide his disappointment afterwards as he reflected on another poor result.

“We’re disappointed with today,” admitted the Mayo manager.

“In the first half we did well, we got a reasonable response, but we can’t be giving away soft goals. 

“We kicked eight points from play against a stubborn defence that Cavan play. 

“Then we conceded what we would feel was a soft goal, we were very disappointed with that. 

“Obviously that gave them the momentum playing with the elements in the second half, and we were put on the back foot quite a bit in the second half.”

The trend of the match changed completely after Gearóid McKiernan’s goal two minutes into first half stoppage time.

Mayo had put themselves in the driving seat without hitting too many high notes and were leading by 0-9 to 0-4 as half-time approached, thanks to two points each from Danny Kirby, Conor O’Shea and Andy Moran.

Then McKiernan took centre stage, firing over a point before hammering in the only goal of the game from close range on 37 minutes. At 0-9 to 1-5, the tide had turned.

Cavan hit the ground running at the start of the second half too and four quick-fire points from

full-back Rory Dunne, Conor Madden, McKiernan and Mossy Corr eased the 4/1 outsiders ahead for the first time.

But Mayo rallied impressively midway through the half with three unanswered points from Danny Kirby and Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan (0-2) to go back in front on 54 minutes.

Corr and Mayo sub Shane Nally then traded scores to leave Mayo clinging to a narrow lead swinging into the home straight.

Remarkably though Mayo failed to add to their tally in the last quarter as Cavan finished with a flourish and three unanswered points sealed a famous victory.

Mattie McGleenan’s men host Kerry at Kingspan Breffni Park next Sunday while Tyrone entertain Mayo in Omagh. 

The battle to beat the drop will be continued then.

Cavan: R Galligan; K Brady, R Dunne (0-1), F Reilly; G Smith, K Clarke, C Moynagh; G McKiernan (1-5, 0-3 frees), T Corr (0-2); M Reilly (0-1), D McVeety (0-3), N Clerkin; N Murray, C Madden (0-1), S Johnston.

Subs used: C Mackey for Johnston (44); S Murray for N Murray (50); C Brady for Clerkin (61); L Buchanan for Corr (70); J Dillon (0-1) for Madden (62).

Mayo: D Clarke; B Harrison, K Higgins, P Durcan; C Boyle, L Keegan (0-2), D Vaughan; T Parsons (0-1), D Kirby (0-4); F Boland (0-1), C O’Connor, C O’Shea (0-2); K McLoughlin (0-1), A Moran (0-3), C Loftus.

Subs used: S Coen for Vaughan (52); S Nally (0-1) for Boland (55); E Regan for Loftus (60); N Douglas for O’Shea (66); J Gibbons for Parsons (70).

Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow)

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