Gowna deliver the goods with big quarter-final win

Senior Football Championship quarter-final

Gowna 2-14

Cavan Gaels 0-9

Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni

Gowna marched on to the semi-final with their best performance of the campaign tonight at HQ as they ran out 11-point winners over a disappointing Cavan Gaels side.

Gowna were the better team throughout and, in the second half in particular, looked what they were – younger and fresher. They were full of running as the town side tired and won going away to lay down a serious marker ahead of a semi-final tussle with Crosserlough.

While the Gaels lacked nothing for heart, they ran out of ideas up front, registering just four points from play.

Both sides will have had regrets from the drawn game eight days ago. The Gaels were seven points up and controlling the game early in the second half but fell away; Gowna, for their part, launched a stirring comeback but, two points up, failed to seal the deal.

The fact that there was plenty of niggle in the drawn game also added to the sense of anticipation here; it was do or die, with no safety net, and the tension could not have been higher.

That showed in the first half as both sides were guilty of some sloppy play, particularly in the final third, but Gowna controlled the exchanges for the most part as they built up a useful six-point half-time lead, built on the platform of midfield dominance.

In constructing that 1-7 to 0-4 interval advantage, Gowna were vastly improved on the first half of the drawn game. Conor Brady maintained his sparkling form from last week but otherwise, the likes of Conor Casey, Tiarnan and Cian Madden were on their games and causing Cavan Gaels problems throughout.

Gowna had a couple of early wides but hit the jackpot in the fourth minute when Conor Madden gathered a handpass with his back to goal, turned sharply and rattled the bottom corner of the net.

The nerves – and possibly the chill in the air – showed as both sides squandered chances but in the 10th minute, Gowna extended their lead when Eoghan Hartin, who turned in a solid shift, slotted over a stylish point with the outside of the right boot.

The Gaels’ response was impressive, however, as Gearoid McKiernan laid off for Evaan Fortune to curl in from a tight angle. Gowna wasted two more opportunities – Aaron Brady and Conor Madden the culprits – and were then punished for a wayward handpass when McKiernan fired over an excellent point from the right wing.

Emmanuel Shehu won the next kick-out uncontested and McKiernan added a mark as Jason O’Reilly’s side began to threaten but Gowna always had a response. Tiarnan Madden raced through the middle and pointed; Declan Meehan (free) and Conor Brady then raised white flags and when Brady was fouled and Tiarnan Madden converted, Gowna were 1-4 to 0-4 up with eight minutes remaining to half-time.

And Gowna would finish the half stronger, Tiarnan Madden fisting over after a terrific run by brother Cian, Mark McKeever pointing with the right and Conor Brady adding another.

Gowna got off to a fast start in the second half with a Cian Madden free after Robbie Fitzpatrick was fouled off the ball; Madden returned the favour with another blistering run leading to a 40-metre Fitzpatrick point.

And when Ryan Donohoe was fouled and Cian Madden converted to make it 1-10 to 0-4 seven minutes into the second half, the game was almost over as a contest.

Gearoid McKiernan showed leadership to send over two points in a minute as the Gaels looked to mount a comeback but Gowna steadied the ship with another quality effort from Fitzpatrick after a patient build-up and managed the game well from there on.

On 52 minutes, the game was put to bed when Gowna put together a fantastic handpassing move through the heart of the Gaels defence and sub Oisin Pierson rolled home a cool finish under goalkeeper Ciaran Flynn.

From there on, Gowna did as they pleased. Ryan Donohoe and Cian Madden (two frees) kept the scoreboard ticking over, with McKiernan adding two frees for the Gaels.

This was an impressive performance by Fintan Reilly/Dermot McCabe's charges, with the star performers too numerous to mention, although the Madden brothers in particular shone along with Conor Brady and the inspirational Ryan McGahern at full-back.

Cavan Gaels: Ciaran Flynn, Luke Molloy, Barry Fortune, Evan McIntyre, Levi Murphy, Niall Murray, Padraig Sexton, Emmanuel Shehu, Evaan Fortune (0-1), Luke Fortune, Keenan Donohoe, Paul O’Connor, Kevin Meehan, Declan Meehan (0-1f), Gearoid McKiernan (0-7, 3f, 1m)

Subs: Jack Tully for D Meehan, Paul Graham for P Sexton (both 40 mins), Andrew Graham for P O’Connor, Niall Smith for N Murray, Daniel Graham for E McIntyre (all 50)

Gowna: Ronan Bannon, Cormac Brady, Eoghan Hartin (0-1), Ryan McGahern, Fionán Brady, Conor Brady (0-2), Tiarnan Madden (0-3, 1f), Ryan Donohoe (0-1), Robbie Fitzpatrick (0-2), Mark McKeever (0-1), Conor Casey, Cian Madden (0-4f), TJ Fitzpatrick, Conor Madden (1-0), Aaron Brady

Subs: Shane Harton for E Hartin (inj.,43 mins), Oisin Pierson (1-0) for C Casey (50), Daire Madden for A Brady (53), Raymond Keogh for TJ Fitzpatrick (56), Oisin Fleming for Conor Madden (59)

Ref: Margaret Farrelly