Westmeath’s Maru Dunne making herself very wide as Cavan’s Muireann Cusack tries to slip around her. Photos: Alex Coleman.

Late drama sees Cavan ladies secure first League win

NFL Division Two

Cavan’s senior ladies showed true grit as they got their NFL Division Two campaign up and running by collecting their first points of the season on Sunday last in Knockbride.

Having lost out to Armagh and Tipperary in their opening two round clashes, Gerry Moane’s charges bared their teeth in difficult conditions to beat their near-neighbours with a late burst getting them over the finishing with the minimum to spare.

The visitors looked like gaining revenge for Cavan’s role in propelling the midland county down to intermediate ranks in recent times when Clara Thornton goaled on the hour mark.

However, the Breffni blues refused to be beaten and, instead, roared back with Munterconnacht/Mountnugent star Aisling Gilsenan showing ice in her veins to land two pressure frees in injury time to seize the day.

“You just have to take off your hat to the girls and the character they showed to get the win,” Cavan team-manager Gerry Moane told The Anglo-Celt.

“We played into the teeth of the wind in the first half and it was tough going but then took control in the second half and, but for the concession of two bad goals after half-time, we would have won with a lot more to spare in the end.

“The girls showed real heart; they never stopped and fully deserved to win, in my book.”


On an understandably glue-like pitch and played amidst a contrary wind, both teams were in rolled-up-sleeves mode from the get-go but a plethora of wides pock-marked a lot of the play and, remarkably, Ciara Finnegan’s 7th minute goal – after good work by Lauren McVeety - was Cavan’s only score in the first half.

At the other end of the field, Westmeath were also profligate but less than a minute after Cavan’s opening major, the visitors plundered their first goal with Rachel Dillon on target.

“In fairness to our girls, Westmeath did hit a lot of wides in the first half but they did so under a lot of pressure.

“We never allowed them the time to dwell and take aim on the ball,” manager Moane enthused.

The maroon and whites went ahead in the 21st minute courtesy of a point from Aoife Connolly and that was the sum total of the first half scores until the 28th minute when Dillon again split the Cavan posts.

Trailing by 1-0 to 1-2 at the interval, the onus was on Cavan to hit the ground running on the restart and they did just that with Aisling Sheridan netting just moments after the influential Vicki Carr was sin binned in the opening minute of the second half.

Cavan continued on the front foot with Aisling Gilsenan’s point (34) catapulting the hosts into a 2-1 to 1-2 lead.

Sarah Dillon countered with a point for the Leinster ladies but Cavan kept their cool and their composure.

A succession of four unanswered points - with two from McVeety book ending scores by Gilsenan and Niamh Keenaghan - had Cavan sitting pretty on the back of a 2-5 to 1-3 lead by the three quarter hour mark.

To their credit, Westmeath refused to go away though and Aoife Connolly’s major (47) put the cat among the pigeons.

While the in-form Gilsenan fired over the black spot (54), Clara Thornton’s goal (60) complemented Connolly’s earlier point and, suddenly, Cavan found themselves trailing by a single point, 2-6 to 3-4.

Cue strokes of genius from the stand-out Gilsenan; frees arrowed over in the 62nd and 64th minutes providing just the ingredients needed to seal the deal.


Elaine Walsh; Muireann Smith, Shauna Lynch, Christina Charters; Cara Maguire, Neasa Byrd, Niamh Keenaghan (0-1); Ciara Finnegan (1-0), Aisling Sheridan (1-0); Caoimhe Madden, Muireann Cusack, Dearbhle Lynch; Lauren McVeety (0-2), Ally Cahill, Aisling Gilsenan (0-5, 2f).

Subs; Geraldine Smith for C Madden; Cara McCaffrey for M Cusack; Kerri McCormack for D Lynch.


Lauren McCormack; Mary Dunne, Lucy Power, Ayesha Roche; Kelly Boyce-Jordan, Tracey Dillon, Chloe Kelly; Vicky Carr, Ashley Ruane; Anna Jones, Lucy McCartan, Rachel Dillon (1-2); Sarah Dillon (0-1), Aoife Connolly (1-1), Ciara Blundell.

Subs; Danielle Madden for A Jones; Niamh Nolan for K Boyce-Jordan; Clara Thornton (1-0) for A Ruane; Kiara Giles for C Blundell; Muireann Scally for L McCartan.