Hurlers snatch draw at the death
Kevin Óg Carney at Kingspan Breffni
A pristine Kingspan Breffni played host to a photo finish last Sunday when Cavan’s senior hurlers’ late dash for the finishing line left the combatants inseparable in an engrossing NHL Division 3B first round tussle.
Clashes between these teams are seldom black and white affairs but, yet again, the issuing of black, yellow and red cards were the main talking points in the aftermath of their set-to.
In was a sporting and, yet again, an evenly balanced contest between two well-matched sides, Fermanagh reaped a rich harvest from going a man up – albeit for just 10 minutes – in the first half but, sadly, Cavan failed to sufficiently cash in on the fact that they had an extra man for the final 25 minutes of the match.
As things panned out, it took four unanswered Brian Fitzgerald points in the dregs of the game to rescue a point for a Cavan side that underperformed as a collective.
Unable to get the bit between their teeth for any real consistent period of time, the Breffni men trailed for the final 42 minutes of the game but Fitzgerald’s 66 metre free with just seconds remaining brought a form of redemption.
On a perfect day for hurling, Cavan corner back Neasan Neary did very well to clear his lines in the 6th minute after strapping Fermanagh full-forward Mark Slevin made a nuisance of himself from a long delivery.
Cavan shaded matters early on and were good value for their 0-6 to 0-4 lead after Fiachra Hughes and Anthony Sheridan combined to set Diarmaid Carney up for a long range point (17).
A point from Colum Sheanon four minutes later and another one from Caoimhín Carney in the 24th minute had Cavan sitting pretty on the back of a 0-8 to 0-4 lead.
In fairness, Cavan’s double scores lead was a tad flattering and they suffered a double whammy in the 28th minute when Fermanagh’s Barney McAuley drove home a penalty after a foul on livewire Tom Keenan which resulted in Cavan ‘keeper Sheridan being black-carded.
To their credit, Fermanagh got all fired-up as Sheridan cooled down on the bench and they scored four unanswered – including a gem from Kevin McGarry - points to go in at the interval leading by 1-9 to 0-8.
The ever-reliable Fitzgerald arrowed yet another free over the bar less than 90 seconds after the restart but Fermanagh then hit their 14-man opposition in the solar plexis in the 37th minute when they built on a turnover in their own full back line to eventually find the net courtesy of a Mark Slevin strike which made it 0-9 to 2-9.
Cavan were always up for the fight though and they got a leg-up too in the 48th minute when Fermanagh’s left half back John Paul McGarry picked up a second yellow card.
Three minutes later, the hosts got right back in the game with a goal (51) by Caoimhín Carney - after Fermanagh ‘keeper Mark Curry blocked Mattie Hynes’ shot - cut the visitors’ lead to just two points.
Cavan continued on the front foot but with Fermanagh leading by 2-9 to 0-10, the hosts let their opponents off the hook when Fitzgerald failed to find the net after the aforementioned Curry spilled a shot from Caoimhín Carney in the 43rd minute.
There was six points between the sides entering the final quarter and Cavan remained up for the fight though and, on cue, Ollie Bellew’s men got a leg-up in the 48th minute when Fermanagh’s left half back John Paul McGarry picked up a second yellow card.
Three minutes later, the hosts got right back in the game with a goal (51) by Caoimhín Carney - after Fermanagh ‘keeper Mark Curry blocked Mattie Hynes’ shot - cut the visitors’ lead to just two points, 2-12 to 1-13.
Cavan continued to enjoy the momentum and an inspirational Enda Shalvey point upped the ante even further only for the impressive Sean Corrigan to arrow over a brilliant free (64) to keep Fermanagh four points ahead.
The battling blues – with Colum Sheanon pivotal in his role as the ‘extra’ man - hung in there though and Fitzgerald’s super point from play (70) and deadly free three minutes later ensured stalemate at the death.
Cavan will hope to go one (point) better this Sunday, May 23rd when they travel in the direction of Ardee to take on Louth in Darver (2pm). The Wee County beat (1-16 to 2-11) Leitrim last Sunday in their clash in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Cavan: Darren Sheridan; Neasán Neary, Dominic Crudden, Mark Moffett; Anthony Sheridan, Enda Shalvey (0-2), Philip McCabe; Mattie Hynes, Fiachra Hughes; Colum Sheanon (0-2), Diarmaid Carney (0-1), Kevin Conneely; Cillian Sheanon, Brian Fitzgerald (0-13, 12f), Caoimhín Carney (1-1).
Subs; Niall Clerkin for F Hughes; Fiachra Hughes for N Clerkin; Philip Brady for F Hughes; Bart Nannery for M Moffett (inj).
Fermanagh: Mark Curry; Dylan Bannon, Rory Porteous, Andrew Breslin; Ryan Bogue (0-1, f), Barney McAuley (1-0), J P McGarry; Francis McBrien, Thomas Cleary; Caolan Duffy (0-2), Kevin McGarry (0-3), Conor McShea (0-2); Sean Corrigan (0-8, 5f), Mark Slevin (1-0), Tom Keenan.
Subs; Aidan Flanagan for B McAuley; Luke McCusker for T Cleary.
Ref: C Ryan (Westmeath)