Kevin Óg Carney
at Kingspan Breffni
The welcome return of the Cavan senior hurlers to the National Hurling League stage after a seven year absence proved to be a disappointing anti-climax at Kingspan Breffni last Sunday.
While the final scoreline didn't reflect kindly on the hosts, the chasm in class between the sides was crystal clear, especially in the twin arts of the creation and the execution of scoring chances.
True, the visitors' 21 point winning margin flattered them. However, in every sector - if not position - the winners came up trumps in the departments labelled technical skills, athleticism, physicality and conditioning.
While it could be argued that Cavan's share of possession over the 70 minutes merited more than just four points, scoreboards are seldom found guilty of perjury and the fact that only one of Cavan's scores emanated from play tells a sorry tale about the team's inability to convert possession into the hard coinage of scores.
Indeed, it was closest to Sligo's goal where the absence of the guest players who upholstered Cavan's cause in 2017 was most acutely felt.
Ironically, Cavan opened the scoring via a Paul Sheridan free (5) but once converted frees by Ruairí Brennan and Keith Raymond (9) put the westerners in front, the lights were stuck on green for the westerners.
Cavan worked their socks off but laid waste some hard graft by coughing up possession far too easily either by sloppy short passing or failing to support the man in possession.
Safe to say, the writing was on the wall as Sligo notched a 0-12 to 0-3 lead by the half way mark.
The visitors went onto increase their lead to 13 points before relocated defender Anthony Sheridan scored Cavan’s only point from play in the 57th minute after good work by Mark Moffett and Niall Browne.
Unfortunately, three minutes later, impressive substitute Tony O’Kelly-Lynch notched Sligo’s opening goal to make it a 1-18 to 0-4 game.
The visitors put the cherry on the cake two minutes into added-on time when man-of-the-match Kevin Banks goaled after yet another turnover.
And so Cavan were left to lick their wounds ahead of their trip to Lancashire in the next round.
The hope though is that last weekend's heavy defeat will strengthen the resolve of the players, hone their hunger and remind them of what's needed to keep what has to be a long-term project on track.
Cavan: D Sheridan; M Moffett, M Hayes, M Hynes; N Neary, A Sheridan (0-1), S Harten; S Keating, K Conneely; F Hughes, J Crowe, E Hill; N Browne, P Sheridan (0-3, 3f), P Brady.
Subs; R O’Hagan for F Hughes (34); C Kelly for E Hill (44); D Kelly for S Harten (58); M Sexton for N Neary (62); L McKenna for P Brady (68).
Sligo: D Reidy; M Comerford, D Keown, A Morrisson; J Weir, K Raymond (0-1, f), K Banks (1-3); R Cox, E Comerford (0-1); J McHugh, B Shannon, N Feehily; G Cadden (0-2), E McDonagh (0-2, 1f), R Brennan (0-9, 8f).
Subs; L Cadden (0-1) for K Raymond (inj, h-t); T Brennan for M Comerford (h-t); K Prior for B Shannon (43); T O’Kelly-Lynch (1-0) for E McDonagh (53); T O’Callaghan for J Weir (54).
Ref; T Gleeson (Dublin)
Sligo spoil Cavan's return to the hurling league
Wednesday, 7th February, 2018 5:32pm