Sharp shooter Sheridan gets Arva off the mark

JFC round 1

Arva 1-19

Drumlane 1-9

This year’s Cavan club championships got under way on Wednesday evening in Bawnboy with the eagerly awaited battle of the junior heavyweights Arva and Drumlane. With both sides coming down from the intermediate ranks last year, a large crowd gathered to see who would hold the outright favourites’ tag after the game.

Twenty minutes before throw-in, the sky opened with torrential rain, leaving the playing surface greasy and ball handling more difficult. Despite this, Arva showed, while still not at full strength, they are now the standard-setters for this year's Junior Championship.

Inside the first minute, Arva showed their intent by winning a free which Conal Sheridan converted. Drumlane replied two minutes later when centre half-back James McCahill showed great individual skill to raise a white flag.

In the sixth minute, wing half-forward Ben Monahan was taken down and Ryan Connolly sent over the free from 40 yards, giving Drumlane the lead for the first and only time. After a period of missed opportunities at both ends of the field, Arva equalised when Kevin Bouchier made little of an extremely acute angle in the left corner forward position with his so-called weaker left foot.

Arva regained the lead on the 12th minute when Bouchier picked out Sheridan with a high ball and Sheridan tapped the ball over the bar from close range. Arva midfielder Jonathan McCabe doubled the Blues’ lead from the edge of the D with 14 minutes on the clock.

After a second five-minute period without a score, Ben Monahan left the minimum between the sides as he sent over from long range for Martin Dunne’s side. With both teams trying to go long with their own kick-outs the excitement of the game was high but the retention rate would have disappointed both managers.

Arva grabbed the game’s first goal with 10 minutes remaining in the first half when Sheridan grabbed a ball sent in over the top of the Drumlane defence and coolly sent it to the back of the net. Drumlane responded with a brilliantly taken long-range point by Michael Owens but a Sheridan free after Ciaran Brady was fouled restored Arva’s four-point advantage.

Drumlane, working hard, forced a turnover in the middle third of the field and punished Gabriel Keogan’s side when Owens sent over his second of the day. In his first championship match since returning from Australia, McCabe's influence was growing on the game as he added a second from play with three minutes remaining in the half.

Once again a ball played over the top of the Drumlane defence ended up in the back of the net but referee James Clarke, after consulting with his umpires, deemed Bouchier to have pushed Harry Clarke over the line and therefore disallowed the goal.

Drumlane finished the first half the stronger when Ryan Connolly converted an attacking mark and Darragh Dolan sent over a long-range effort to leave just a two-point gap at the break.

After six minutes in the second half, Arva’s intent put the game to bed early was clear. Midfielder Tristan Noack-Hoffman opened the scoring followed by a Sheridan free, leaving four points between the sides with just two second-half minutes played.

With Bouchier operating further out the field, he produced a classy pass to set up Ciaran Cooney for a right-footed point in the sixth second-half minute. Looking all at sea, Drumlane needed something special to energise their game. Daryl McGurren looked to be well wrapped up by the Arva defence as he headed towards the end line but a sharp turn created enough space for him send a rocket of a left foot shot to the far corner of the net, handing Drumlane a lifeline.

Instead of lifting Drumlane, McGurren's goal saw Arva raise their game with McCabe sending over a point just seconds after the green flag was raised. McCabe, now playing in top gear, from the resulting kick-out was awarded a free which Sheridan converted and when Sheridan was fouled a minute later, Hoffman raised a third white flag in as many minutes, cancelling out Drumlane’s goal.

Sheridan added another free, leaving the score1-13 to 1-7 as the final quarter began. After a 10-minute wait for a Drumlane score, Ryan Connolly stepped up with a point on his left foot from open play and three minutes later added a free but a lot of the Drumlane players appeared to have given up the fight soon after.

With nine minutes remaining, a converted free by Sheridan was followed by a black card to a frustrated Ryan Connolly, resulting in Drumlane finishing the game with 14 players. Three converted frees in a row from Sheridan between the 24th and 28th minutes meant he finished the game with nine points from his ten attempts with the dead ball.

Arva did manage to create another goalscoring chance as Ciaran Brady broke through the Drumlane defence but Harry Clarke was quickly off his line, showing great agility to dive right and deny a second green flag.

Wing half-forward Ciaran Cooney extended the Arva lead with his second of the evening. The final score of the game came entering injury time and fittingly fell to Sheridan and as he split the posts, ending a superb individual display that saw him finish with 1-11 beside his name.

Arva: Cian O’Hara, Danny Ellis, Mikie Cully, Charlie Madden, Finbar MacAvinue, Ciaran Brady, Shane Hamilton, Triston Noack-Hoffman (0-2,1f), Jonathan McCabe (0-3), Ciaran Cooney (0-2), Conor McEntee, Bryan McEntee, Barry Donnelly, Kevin Bouchier (0-1), Conal Sheridan (1-11, 9f)

Subs: Fergal McGlade for Bryan McEntee, Stephen Ellis for Shane Hamilton

Drumlane: Harry Clarke, Francis Lunney, John O’Dowd, Donal Monahan, Mark Maguire, James McCahill (0-1), Ciaran O’Brien, Michael Owens (0-2), Kian Monahan, Gary Tubman, Darragh Dolan (0-1), Ben Monahan (0-1), Donal Reilly, Daryl McGurren (1-0), Ryan Connolly (0-4, 2f, 1m)

Subs: Cormac Flynn for D Reilly, Killian Freehill for G Tubman, Luke Longair for B Monahan, Joshua Marsden for J O’Dowd.