With a year’s hard grind under their belts, Cavan have hit the ground running in 2014 and, having easily seen off Antrim in round one, they picked up their second McKenna Cup win over a lacklustre Down at O Raghallaigh Park, Kingscourt last Sunday.
In desperately slippery underfoot conditions, the hosts were the better side throughout and led from the fifth minute, when Eugene Keating pointed a free, until the long whistle. The Breffni men were well up for the challenge, too, as was exemplified when Keating landed his second point in the eighth minute and responded with a fist pump towards the large home crowd.
A David Givney point made it 0-3 to 0-0 but Down – who kicked a dozen wides in all – managed to claw it back to a one-point game at the break with frees from Niall Madine and Darragh O’Hanlon.
Sub Kevin Tierney, who had bagged two goals against Antrim, set Cavan on their way at the start of the second half, though, sending a rocket to the roof of the Down net with his fist touch after great work from Keating.
Down replied with points from Madine and Ryan Boyle but Cavan quickly took charge, with Givney – relocated to midfield at the start of the second half – and Keating to the fore, along with full-back Rory Dunne, who turned in a commanding performance.
A long-range point from newcomer Philip Tinnelly was followed by two super scores from Turloc Mooney as Cavan poured forward in the final 20 minutes. Points from Givney, Keating (free) and Niall Murray saw them pull eight clear before Benny Coulter rounded off the scoring with a consolation free.
“We showed good form in the second half, I thought we started very well but we got caught up in the spider’s web, trying to run down the centre into a crowded defence, but the boys talked about how to open it up among themselves at half-time, and in fairness they did that,” said Cavan manager Terry Hyland.
Down boss James McCartan, meanwhile, bemoaned his list of walking wounded.
“It's very difficult when you're missing players through injury, we're missing nearly a forward line at the minute with Ambrose, Mark Poland, Donal O'Hare, Conor Lavery, Paul Devlin and two or three others.”
Cavan: C Gilsenan; J Hayes, R Dunne, K Brady; P Tinnelly (0-1), A Clarke, N Smith; D McKiernan, P Leddy; M Reilly, N McDermott, T Mooney (0-2) ; C Mackey, D Givney (0-2), E Keating (0-3, 2f).
Subs; K Tierney (1-0) for P Leddy (half-time); M Lyng for D McKiernan (40); N Murray (0-1) for M Reilly (BC, 47); M Dunne for N McDermott (54); Damien Reilly for P Tinnelly (59); D Barkey for K Brady (66).
Down: S Harrison; D McCartan, P Turley, D O'Hagan; D O'Hanlon (0-1, 1f) , A Carr, M Lively; K King, G McArdle; R Boyle (0-1) , C O'Hare, B McArdle; P Fitzpatrick, N Madine (0-2), E McCartan.
Subs; C Garvey for D O'Hanlon (BC, 46); B Coulter (0-1,1f) for P Fitzpatrick (48); L Doyle for N Madine (52); D Turley for G McArdle (58); Sean Bell for E McCartan (60); S McNamee for D O'Hagan (69).