Crosserlough impress in a better bad game than most

Brandon Boylan got on the scoresheet for an impressive Crosserlough side.
Brandon Boylan got on the scoresheet for an impressive Crosserlough side.

Kiernan’s Cavan SFC group stage: Ramor United 0-13 Crosserlough 2-13

EVEN a bad game in Cavan is watchable. This wasn’t quite in that category but it wasn’t brilliant either.

What you get either way is a bit of football.

There’s more kicking than in any other county in this part of the world. The top teams remain so keen to transition through the boot that even if they’re getting bodies behind the ball, it doesn’t feel like it the way it does in other places.

You’ve still handpassing to beat the band but there’s just enough kicking that it still looks like the sport it’s supposed to. You get target men inside and they get the ball early, and that means you get contests.

You wonder if the people of the Breffni county appreciate what they have. The big park in Cavan town was as quiet as St Clare’s Church in the middle of a good sermon. Maybe it’s just groupstageitis.

Crosserlough looked a serious side. Ramor stuck at it but you could see they didn’t quite have the same levels of belief or organisation about themselves. They were throwing haymakers while the ‘Lough boxed clever.

Ramor’s attacking resources have just been stripped so bare. They’ve lost key men Sean McEvoy and James Brady from their championship winning team two years ago while Matthew Smith is out injured after a fine league.

And then just four minutes in here, Conor Bradley had to be stretchered off after taking a heavy belt in a 50-50 collision with Paddy Lynch. It never rains but it pours.

At half-time it was 1-7 to 0-5 in favour of the eventual winners and that didn’t really reflect the margin by which they’d been the better side, albeit wind-assisted.

The 2020 champions had such a variety to their play. They hemmed the Ramor kickout in and they punched holes in all manner of ways.

Take the contrast in their two goals. The first, for James Smith, came off a delayed and then perfectly-timed handpass in behind by Dara McVeety. He rattled it hard across Liam Brady, who had no chance.

Five minutes into the second half they turned the ball over on their own 13’ and they broke with a pace and ruthlessness that any team would struggle to deal with. They had numbers and runners everywhere. The pass of choice was to Paddy Lynch (who was sent off late on), and he rounded Brady to tap in and put eight points between them.

James Smith’s rotations to full-forward, a regular feature of his last couple of seasons of county football, were effective during the first period too.

They should have had a second goal before half-time when he drifted in and was deftly and intelligently found by Adrian Smith, but Matthew Costello failed to capitalise from the layoff when he hit the near post that had a gaping hole in beside it.

There was a spell in the middle of the first half when Ramor just couldn’t get out on their own kickout. Crosserlough’s press was organised and they’d enough big units around the middle that Liam Brady didn’t really fancy loading it on top of them.

McVeety had a serious game for Crosserlough too. It wasn’t the flashy stuff at all, but when they needed him on it, he got on it. He was their out-ball on kickouts.

James Bradley could have done nothing more to stay with him but he just couldn’t stop McVeety winning the ball and getting his team out of the press.

They also tried a few of the old Shaun Patton to Michael Murphy kickouts, lacing it 70 yards over the top for the flick-on in behind. They would have had a goal off it had McVeety not spilled Lynch’s layoff before half-time.

Up until the second goal the gap between the side was evident.

Thereafter Ramor came into it. Theirs was a gutsy last 20 minutes, a period of refusal to lie down. They kicked six of the next eight scores.

Cathal Maguire was the fly Crosserlough couldn’t swat, at the heart of almost anything good by the men that got to wear their yellow and black, forcing their opponents into their unfamiliar white kit.

Gary Mannion gave it a rattle at midfield, goalkeeper Liam Brady kicked a couple of lovely frees and after a tough first half, the returning Ado Cole started to find himself and fought back in a good battle with Patrick O’Reilly, albeit without any significant joy.

They have Mullahoran next weekend while Crosserlough face the weekend’s big winners Laragh United.

It’ll take a serious team to beat Crosserlough this year.


Ramor Utd: L Brady (0-2 frees); L Lynch, Matthew Magee, D Barkey; Mark Magee; A O’Connell, J Brady (0-4 frees), N Levy-Valensi; E Maguire, G Mannion (0-1); C Maguire (0-1), C Bradley (0-1), J Bradley (0-2, 0-1 mark); A Cole (0-2, 0-1 free), O McCrystal

Subs: S Cadden for C Bradley (11), B O’Connell for McCrystal (37), E Somerville for Levy-Valensi (46), A Tynan for L Lynch (60)

Crosserlough: T Byrd; J Cooke, P O’Reilly, F Lovett; P Smith, C Boylan (0-1), D McVeety; J Smith (1-2), E Boylan (0-3); S McManus (0-1), B Boylan (0-1), D Gaffney; A Smith, M Costello, P Lynch (1-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45)

Subs: R Stuart for McManus (40), O Rehill for Costello (40), H Boylan for A Smith (50), D Shalvey (0-1) for Gaffney (56), P Smith (0-1 mark) for Lovett (60)

Red card: P Lynch (54, second booking)

Referee: C Dourneen (Ballinagh)