Down throw away victory in Armagh

Down throw away victory in Armagh

18 November 2020

CAVAN broke Down’s hearts with a stirring second half fightback from a seemingly impossible position on Sunday to book their spot in the Ulster Championship final against Donegal.

Down were out of the traps in the match like greyhounds, with Cavan seemingly having no answer to the youthful verve of Paddy Tally’s side in the opening exchanges.

However in the second half, it was a different story altogether as Down faded and Cavan sensationally sealed their place in the final.

Down made a blistering start, Jerome Johnston opening the scoring from play inside the first 90 seconds.

Things got even better when Ceilum Doherty broke free of the Breffni defence’s clutches and thumped the ball to the back of the net with just three minutes played. 

Johnston added a second score from play to further underline Down’s dominant start to the game when he got on the end of a pass from Paul Devlin in the eighth minute.

Cavan were getting the odd chance here and there, but just couldn’t take advantage — by the ninth minute they had already racked up four wides.

Liam Kerr took on the Cavan defence superbly before feeding Johnston who scored his fourth minor to make it 1-4 to no score.

Stephen Smith’s 13-metre free finally got Cavan on to the scoreboard as they tried to stem the red and black tide. That was only a brief respite, however, as Paul Devlin took the final score before the water-break to make it 1-5 to 0-1.

The pattern continued when Donal O’Hare floated over a free as Down continued to cut swathes through Cavan.

He had another chance when he crashed through Cavan with such ease again on 21 minutes. This time his shot drifted wide, as the Breffni Park men struggled to stay afloat.

Killian Brady added Cavan’s second score in the 24th minute as they began to try and find a way back into the contest and stem the flow of attack’s from Tally’s men.

They suffered a blow to those hopes in the 25th minute when Martin Reilly was black-carded for his challenge on Liam Kerr.

Devlin added a free for Down to take their scoreline to 1-7. Jerome Johnston thought he was in for a sure goal in the 27th minute, only for some desperate Cavan defending to foil him.

In the end, that would prove one of the match’s critical turning points. A superb 45-metre free effort from Devlin took Down’s lead to 1-8 to 0-2.

On the half-hour mark Johnston, with his fifth point, knocked over a wonderful long-range free to stretch Down’s yawning lead to 10 points.

Padraig Faulkner and Gerard McKiernan pulled two back for Cavan before the break, but Down went in with a commanding 1-9 to 0-4 advantage.

Cavan were determined they would make a fist of things in the second half and substitute Conor Madden scored early on from play after the restart.

Thomas Galligan won a 38th minute free which he clipped over the bar to allow Cavan to build on a bit of momentum and make the score 1-9 to 0-6.

Liam Kerr produced a stirring Down solo run before feeding O’Hare who fired over. Seven minutes into the second half, Cavan were awarded a penalty. Martin Reilly stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, blasting beyond Burns in the Down goal to put four points between the sides.

Kieran Brady launched a huge 46th minute effort which was roared over the bar by the Cavan team to make it a three-point game.

On 48 minutes, Sheahlan Johnston was introduced in place of Liam Kerr as Down tried to stem Cavan’s growing confidence and Donal O’Hare opened Down’s gap to four points just before the water-break with a superbly-taken right-footed effort.

Madden delivered a sensational score from way out near the touchline in the 52nd minute to leave a goal between them. It was a score which almost defied belief to make it Cavan 1-8, Down 1-11. McKiernan then added a free to further reduce the gap to two.

Jerome Johnston went for a long-range free with the outside of the boot on 56 minutes, but his effort floated just wide. Down continued on the offensive, Poland with a great chance on the run, but that effort too was of target. 

Cavan then gave Down a real heart-in-the-mouth moment, Madden pointing, but the goal looked on. Galligan soon after won a free, which he himself converted to make it, remarkably, a level game at 1-11 each.

It was seemingly Monaghan repeating itself all over again for Cavan as they were staging another miraculous comeback. 

Gearoid McKiernan landed a 64th minute free as Cavan led for the first time. Clarke put two between the sides as the game slipped away from Down in the 65th minute.

Cavan led 1-13 to 1-11. Galligan thumped over a high score that pushed the gap to three as Down faded. 

Donal O’Hare did score a late free as Down grabbed another minor, but really at this stage they needed a goal. Johnston lofted in a huge up-and-

under, hoping the ball would fall for an attacker, but it actually went over the bar.

At the final whistle Cavan were winners by a point after being seeming dead and buried. Down’s hearts were broken.

Down: R Burns, P Murdock, P Fegan, K McKernan, P Laverty, L Kerr, D Guinness, C Mooney (C), J Flynn, C Poland, C Doherty (1-0), B O’Hagan, P Devlin (0-3), J Johnston (0-5), D O’Hare (0-4). Subs: S Johnston (0-1) for Kerr, D Ward for Devlin, C Quinn for O’Hagan, J Guinness for Poland, R Johnston for D Guinness.

Cavan: R Galligan (C), J McLoughlin, P Faulkner (0-1), L Fortune, G Smith, C Brady (0-1), P Graham, K Clarke (0-1), K Brady (0-1), O Kiernan, G McKiernan (0-3f),  T Galligan (0-3), O Pierson, M Reilly (1-0), S Smith (0-1).

Subs: C Madden (0-3) for Pierson, C Conroy for Graham, Donohoe for Smith, C Timoney for K Brady, N Murray for Reilly.

Cavan 1-14

Down 1-13