It was stalemate at a bitterly cold Castleblayney today as old rivals Cavan and Monaghan played out a drab – if fiercely-contested – clash in front of 8,000 fans.
It was typical February fare – freezing and low-scoring – with no score but plenty of endeavour in a frantic final 15 minutes as the clock ticked down and the tempo, belatedly, heated up.
The key stats in a forgettable first half were as follows: 18 frees (10 to the hosts), six points (three apiece) and, for Cavan, six wides and seven shots dropped short. Oh and the excitement? Zero.
To call the opening 35 minutes a war of attrition would be kind to the latest instalment of a battle which has run off every year or thereabouts since 1888 – it was more a series of small skirmishes, troops retreating back into position to resume hostilities, defences on top.
Cavan went two ahead through Seanie Johnston (free) and lively newcomer Niall Clerkin; Monaghan landed three in two minutes, all from Conor McManus but just one from play, before Ciaran Brady levelled it.
McManus and Kieran Hughes put some daylight between them before the sides landed two apiece, Johnston with two frees for Cavan and Conor McCarthy and Fintan Kelly on the mark for the Farney as Monaghan held a two-point lead.
Cavan’s play was littered with errors but the fact that they were creating plenty of chances gave them hope and they dug in well to tie it up, sub Conor Madden and then Gearoid McKiernan landing their best two scores as they held on for their first point in Division 1 in 13 long years.
Monaghan: R Beggan, F Kelly (0-1), D Wylie, R Wylie, K Duffy, N McAdam, C Walshe, D Hughes, K Hughes (0-1), K O’Connell, S Carey, G Doogan, C McCarthy (0-1), T Kerr, C McManus (0-4, 3f)
Subs: D Malone for O’Connell (h/t), R McAnespie for Kerr (h/t), E Duffy for Doogan (62 mins), B McGinn for McCarthy (62 mins)
Cavan: J Farrelly, F Reilly, P Faulkner, K Brady, M Reilly, C Moynagh, D McVeety, K Clarke, T Corr, C Brady (0-1), N McKiernan, G Smith, N Clerkin (0-1), G McKiernan (0-1), S Johnston (0-3f)
Sub: N McDermott for Moynagh (23 mins), C Madden (0-1) for N McKiernan (23 mins), S Murray for Smith (30 mins), P O’Connor for C Brady (52 mins)