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Allianz Football League Rd 1 2018

posted 30 Jan 2018, 06:00 by John O'Sullivan

CLARE.................2-9                 CAVAN............... 1-12

By Michael O Connor.

Mixed emotions as both sides left Cusack Park with the game won, lost and won again before settling for a share of the spoils that leaves Clare wondering will it prove costly come league end in two months time.

Cavan finished second from bottom in the top tier last season and after relegation they looked likely to lose when Keelan Sexton put the Banner in front in the 71st minute but hero of the day Bryan Magee rescued an unlikely point for the Breffni men watched before an attendance of 1400 people on Saturday afternoon.

16 years ago was the last occasion when the two counties met in league action. Success was a 1-12 to 0-07 win for Cavan at Miltown Malbay in 2002. Clare had a strong breeze at their backs in the first-half and looked to build up a big lead by half-time, but disaster struck inside the opening minute. Conor Madden came into the Cavan starting 15 instead of Adrian Cole late on, and he provided the pass to McVeety who in turn put O’Reilly through before he finished to the roof of Killian Roche’s net with less than a minute played. Conor Finucane, Eoin Cleary and Keelan Sexton all from play hit back within five minutes to level matters before Bryan Magee restored a temporary Cavan lead.

Eimhim Courtney hit back after Ray Galligan in the Cavan goal was dispossed by Sexton and Clare held a 1-07 to 1-02 half-time lead thanks to further scores from Cleary (2), Gearoid O Brien and Conor Finucane with a solitary Cathal O Reilly the Cavan response. There were up to 16 debutants in action between both sides showing the faith that both managers had in their respective panels. Clare had 10 players under 24 within their ranks with none over 30 starting the game.

Former All Star nominee Cian Mackey was introduced by the  Cavan management on the resumption and he kicked two invaluable points, but Brennan, Gearoid O’Brien and Cathal O’Connor scored for Clare to give them a 1-10 to 1-04 advantage by the 44th minute. At this juncture with over 66% of the game enacted it looked like a Clare win stamped all over the final result as they were in apparent control of proceedings and look confident within themselves. Ten minutes action or inaction if one was to explain it clearly with no score for either side. Interestingly, though from a Clare perspective they were beginning to lose impetus and Cavan were attacking more regularly albeit without scoring but that changed with stunning speed in the final quarter. Cavan scored 1-2 in a minute. Mackey was involved in the goal again when his shot was saved by Roche and McVeety fisted to the net after the Clare rearguard were dispossessed with ease. It was a hammer blow for Clare who failed to settle from the kick out.

Ciaran Brady and Cole added further points before Brennan received a black card for an off-the-ball incident in the 58th minute. This stunned Clare who had gone from six clear to just the minimum in  less than three minutes. Cavan bouyed now by the confidence of taking control of the game had the breeze, a now vocal support and all of the momentum behind them and points from McVeety and Oisin Kiernan gave the Breffni men a 2-08 to 1-10 lead entering injury-time. Both sides had brought on subs in the final twenty minutes but it appeared Cavan had the stronger bench. Clare were now hanging on for dear lives hoping for some solace after 50 minutes of well drilled controlled play. Eoin Cleary who was making a return to the Clare colours after an injury enforced lay off levelled things up before Kilmurry attacker Killian Sexton gave Clare hope of all both league points but Magee was having nothing of this. He struck for a 72nd minute equaliser sending Clare to Navan next week looking for a stronger last quarter finish and a result. 

CLARE: Killian Roche; Cian O'Dea, Cillian Brennan, Gordon Kelly; Jamie Malone, Ciaran Russell, Pearse Lillis; Gary Brennan (0-1), Cathal O'Connor (0-1); Alan Sweeney, Eoin Cleary (0-4), Gearoid O'Brien (0-2), Conor Finnucane (0-2), Keelan Sexton (0-2), Eimhin Courtney (1-0).

SUBS: Darragh Bohannon for Brennan  (black card), Kieran Malone for Sweeney, Sean O’Donoghue for Courtney.

CAVAN: Raymond Galligan; Donal Monahan, Padraig Faulkner, David Phillips, Darragh Kennedy, Ciaran Brady (0-1), Oisin Kiernan (0-1); Killian Clarke, Jack Wharton, Enda Flanagan, Dara McVeety (1-1), David Brady; Caoimhin O'Reilly (1-01), Conor Madden, Bryan Magee (0-02).

SUBS: Conor Moynagh for Wharton, Niall McKiernan for Madden, Cian Mackey (0-2) for Kennedy, Adrian Cole (0-1) for D Brady, Ryan Connolly for O’Reilly, Conor Brady for McKiernan.

Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).