Damien O'Reilly in action against Monaghan.
Damien O'Reilly in action against Monaghan.
As Cavan and Monaghan prepare to meet again tomorrow, we look back on the last four championship clashes between the neighbours.
June 30 2013, semi-final, Clones
Monaghan crush dream in tense battle
Cavan’s dreams of a first Ulster final appearance in 12 years were crushed by neighbours Monaghan after 70 minutes’ action which could not have been closer on the last Saturday of June in Clones.
Before a crowd of 15,644, Cavan played well in most aspects but, again, their shooting let them down and the concession of a poor goal ultimately proved to be their undoing. Terry Hyland’s men started the better of the sides. Killian Clarke was very prominent in the early exchanges, as he was against Fermanagh, and after three wides, Cavan finally got off the mark in the ninth minute, James McEnroe and Killian Brady combining to release Eugene Keating, who fired over a left-footed point from 35 metres.
Great work from Clarke played David Givney inside and he slotted over a tidy point a minute later but, after enjoying almost all the possession, disaster struck for Cavan when a short kick-out from Conor Gilsenan was intercepted, Darren Hughes passed to Chris McGuinness and he sent an excellent finish low to the Breffni net.
So, with 12 minutes played, Cavan found themselves a point down but their response was impressive, Givney pointing from play again after timing his run to perfection and from the next kick-out, Keating gave the ball to Cian Mackey, who burned the Monaghan defence for pace and curled in from the right.
Niall McDermott fired over Cavan’s fifth point after 18 minutes but Monaghan soon began to work their way into the contest.
A terrific point from the dangerous Kieran Hughes cut the gap to one and although Martin Dunne converted a tricky free after a foul on Mackey, a direct move from goalkeeper to full-forward, via two passes, saw Conor McManus pull one back at the other end.
Again, Cavan hit back. McDermott won a free and went short to McEnroe, who cut inside and flung over a fine point to make it 0-7 to 1-2 after 27 minutes.
Two quickfire frees from McManus levelled it but Cavan hit the front again with a neat point from play from Dunne. The final kick of the half was a Darren Hughes point to leave the sides level, 0-8 to 1-5, at the break.
After 13 scoreless minutes, during which the Monaghan defence did very well in sheperding out the likes of Keating and Dunne, Monaghan attacked at pace up the right wing and Kieran Hughes set McManus up for a lovely point to nudge his side in front, 1-6 to 0-8.
Mackey did well to win a free which McDermott floated over from around 40 metres and, a minute later, he repeated the trick from an almost identical position to nudge Cavan into the lead, 0-10 to 1-6, with 16 minutes to play.
They almost had another score from their next attack when Damien O’Reilly’s attempt for a point dropped short and hit the bar. Instead it was Monaghan who raised the next flag, a soft-looking free for a tackle on McManus punished by sub Paul Finlay.
With the lead flipflopping and the exchanges so tight, the result was inevitbaly going to come down to either a moment of brilliance or a controversial decision. Cavan benefitted from the latter when Keating won a dubious free which Dunne converted to tie things again in the 60th minute, but they got no luck whatsoever in the closing ten minutes.
First, McManus took a pass from Stephen Gollogly and swung over a sweet point. However, ref Marty Duffy intervened in the dying seconds, penalising Cian Mackey for over-carrying as Cavan pressed. It was a very, very harsh decision but worse was to come when Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan took a dozen steps with the ball, under pressure from cavan forwards, without releasing. No free was given, and the chance for a draw was lost for Cavan.
By that stage, Beggan’s counterpart Gilsenan had nailed a 50-metre free from the ground but it wasn’t enough as Cavan came up agonisingly short.
June 24 2001, semi-final, Clones
New-look team misfire up front but do enough
In the 60th championship meeting between the sides, Cavan finished strongly to come through what was a poor spectacle.
“Clones is such a picturesque setting for a big GAA game that it is always a disappointment when you find yourself admiring the scenery more than the football game being played out before you. That’s the way it was for the neutrals in attendance at the Cavan-Monaghan match but not of course for the fanatical supporters of these two counties,” noted Eugene McGee in the Irish independent.
Cavan kicked 16 wides, 11 in the second half, 10 of which were dragged left of goals thanks to a vicious cross-field breeze.
Monaghan dominated the first 20 minutes, leading with points from Declan Smyth and Darren Farmer, but half a dozen wides hurt them and when Dermot McCabe began to dominate midfield, Cavan reeled off a succession of points to lead 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time.
Jason O’Reilly was getting little change from Dermot Mcdermott and with Monaghan sub Tommy Freeman kicking 0-4 from play, the Farney looked likely to progress.
Eight minutes into the second half they led by two points but a Peter Reilly free and great save from Aaron Donohoe ignited Cavan, for whom rookies Michael Brides and Edward Jackson were excellent, and when Man of the Match Finbar O’Reilly and the inspirational Anthony Forde pointed, Cavan were back in charge. They had a couple of goal chances thwarted, incidentally, by Forde’s cousin in the Monaghan goal, Glen Murphy.
O’Reilly was a colossus in the final ten minutes as Cavan outscored Monaghan 0-3 to 0-1, McCabe sealing the victory with a 35-metre free.
July 2 1995, semi-final, Clones:
Cahill the man as O’Dowd saves and Cavan advance
“If there was any team Cavan would have preferred to beat on their way towards a crack at the Ulster SFC title and the Anglo-Celt Cup, it was Monaghan,” wrote Eamonn Gaffney in the Celt after this win.
“The age-old rivalry is intense in sport and politics and this encounter was no exception... Monaghan didn’t reckon on Cavan’s ace in the pack, Fintan Cahill, enflaming passions even further with a brilliant goal after 11 minutes, which proved to be the match-winning score.”
This match turned on a couple of factors. Paul O’Dowd’s brilliant 30th minute penalty save from Declan Smyth was crucial, as was the Farney kicking nine second half wides and just three points in the same period, but the inspired form of Cavan full-forward Fintan Cahill, who scored 1-3 from play, was vital.
“Seldom have I experienced such an atmosphere at a match. The Monaghan fans were even singing during the minor match. And their enthusiasm seemed justified when they burst into action in the opening ten minutes,” reported the Irish Independent’s Liam Horan.
Two Peter duffy points in the first four minutes got them going but a point a brilliant goal from Cahill saw Cavan hit the front. Mickey Slowey pointed for Monaghan in the 12th minute but they wouldn’t score again until two minutes into the second half. In the meantime, Dermot McCabe, Adrian Lambe, Ronan Carolan (two) and Peter Reilly raised white flags as Cavan led by 1-6 to 0-5 at half-time.
Declan Loughman and Peter Reilly traded points before Cahill sent over a beauty. Monaghan landed three in succession from Duffy (two) and Frank McEnaney but Cavan, led at the back by the brilliant Bernard Morris, stood strong and, fittingly, the Gowna man supplied the pass for Carolan to send over the final score of the game.
“After 26 years,” noted Horan, “Manna is starting to drop from heaven for Cavan...”
“The commitment and fitness of both counties belied their minnow status and the intensity of battle was awesome,” commented Páidí Ó Sé.
May 22, 1994, quarter-final, Breffni Park:
Defence caves in as hosts blow six-point lead
In 1993, when Monaghan beat Cavan in a first round replay at Breffni Park, it was the first time in 60 years that they had beaten the Breffni men in championship at the Cavan town venue.
They repeated the trick the following year when a home performance littered by defensive errors saw Cavan concede 3-10 and slip to a sixth successive first round loss.
Monaghan had been relegated to Division 4 of the league, while Cavan retained their division 3 status, and were missing Gerry Mone, David Byrne and Eamon Murphy, with Eamonn Gaffney noting that “confident predictions of a six-point win for the Breffnimen were confidently being touted” before the match.
Cavan led by 0-5 to 0-2 after 14 minutes, with Stephen King, Damien O’Reilly, Gerry Sheridan, John Brady and Fintan Cahill to the fore but a mistake at the back allowed Stephen McGinnity in for a 20th minute goal. Back came Cavan, with Ronan Carolan reliable as usual on frees, to take a three-point half-time lead, and when Damien O’Reilly set teenager Peter Reilly up for a terrific goal early in the second half, the hosts led by six.
But Gregory Flanagan and Declan Smyth goaled in the space of three minutes to turn the game on its head. Cavan sub Tommy smith replied with a great point but this was cancelled out by Smyth.
The Carrickmacross man then won a penalty, but Paul O’Dowd easily kept out Ray McCarron’s poor shot. In the 50th minute, Philip smith was dismissed and as he was, Bernard Morris and Noel Marron tangled and they too saw the line.
Monaghan finished stronger, with Slowey and Smyth ending the match with 2-8 between them, as Cavan’s back-line endured a tough afternoon.
“This was a Cavan collapse of immense proportions as their shaky, nervous defence just caved in,” reported Peadar O’Brien in the Irish Press.
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