U20s finish league with away win

U20 Philly McGuinness League

Cavan 1-17

Leitrim 2-7

Cavan U20s footballers finished the Philly McGuinness Development League with a seven-point win over Leitrim on Saturday afternoon last. Despite winning two of their three games in the league, they failed to progress to the final, losing out to Longford on the head-to-head rule.

It was clear to see early in the first half that Cavan were intent on playing on the front foot but in a desire to get the ball to the inside forward line they coughed up a lot of possession. In the second half the boys in blue ran the ball a lot more, drawing out the Leitrim defence, and landed a goal and ten points as a result.

Another positive for last year’s beaten Ulster finalists was their ability to respond to the home side taking the lead. On all three occasions (two of which were goals), Cavan replied with a run of scores, three points twice and a goal and five after Leitrim’s second major. Cavan’s strength off the bench proved important in an extremely physical game as they finished much the stronger with 1-6 in the final 12 minutes of play.

The visitors opened the scoring with Oran Rehill pointing after two minutes followed by a Daire Madden free as Turlough Farrelly was fouled off the ball. Full-forward Paul Moran got the home side up and running with a free as Caoláin McCabe was called for over-carrying, but Darragh Lovett sent over his first on seven minutes to leave Cavan 0-3 to 0-1 ahead.

Leitrim battled to win a the next Cavan kick-out and found Moran who swung the ball over the black spot with his left boot. Cavan’s defence was again punished for a pulling of jersey and Moran levelled the sides after the free was brought forward for not releasing the ball.

Madden booted over a 44-metre free off the ground after Favour Shehu was fouled to edge Cavan back into the lead.

Midway through the first half Leitrim struck gold as Cavan were sloppy coming out from the back with the ball. Paul Moran pounced to steal the ball and transferred it to Conor Quinn who lobbed a fist pass to the back post for Barry McNulty to palm to the back of the net, pushing Leitrim into a two-point lead.

Cavan responded well with Rehill fouled after getting on the end of a Kevin Lovett kick pass and Madden made no mistake with the free. The sides were level three minutes later as the lively Favour Shehu cut across the field to hook the ball over the bar on his trusted left foot.

After an eight-minute spell without a score, Cavan regained the lead after a big shoulder by McCabe won back the ball for the Blues. Cavan worked the ball quickly to the opposite side of the field where Aaron Reel measured a hand pass perfectly to match Darragh Lovett’s back door cut and the Killygarry man split the posts leaving Cavan with a single point advantage at the break.

Moran levelled the match for the third time with a free after four second half minutes but half-time Cavan sub Philip Smyth converted an attacking mark less than a minute later. Paul Moran for the second time found a pocket of space to send over another point before Leitrim wrestled back the lead thanks to a Jack Casey free.

Showing great game management, Cavan had the ball over the bar a little over a minute later thanks to Darragh Lovett’s third point from close to the right sideline. Lovett was then fouled for Madden to continue his flawless run of frees. Darragh Lovett’s mark on the 46th minute came from a perfect 40-metre Madden kick pass, giving Cavan a two-point lead again.

Cavan, pushing forward for more scores, were caught out by a long Leitrim kick-out. Barry McNulty picked up a breaking ball and placed the ball into the hands of Moran behind the Cavan defence. Moran side-stepped one Cavan man and blasted the ball to the roof of the net.

Cavan now trailed for the third time but their superior conditioning was about to kick in for the final 13 minutes. A free and a ’45 by Madden saw Cavan take back the lead for the final time. Madden split the defence with a hand pass to set up Aaron Reel for a point before Darragh Lovett made it a three-point game with as many minutes remaining.

The game was wrapped up on the 58th minute when a Lovett shot dropped short but the Leitrim keeper palmed the ball down into the path of Shehu who gratefully gathered and stuck the ball in the net. From the resulting kick-out, captain McCabe sent over a long-range point leaving seven between the sides. Full forwards Moran and Madden traded frees in injury time before the final whistle sounded.

The championship preparations now begin for Cavan as they face the winners of Monaghan and Armagh on Wednesday,March 29.

Cavan: Jake Norris, Sean Og McGearty, Evan Crowe, Ben McGahan, Aaron Reel(0-1), Caoláin McCabe(0-1), Kevin Lovett, Ryan Brady, Thomas Partington, Oran Rehill(0-1), Turlough Farrelly, Cormac McKeogh, Favour Shehu(1-1), Daire Madden(0-6f), Darragh Lovett(0-6,2m)

Subs: Philip Smyth(0-1m) for T Partington, Cormac Brady for S Og McGearty, Emmanuel Shehu for T Farrelly, Kyle McCabe for K Lovett, Micheál Smith for A Reel, Ben Tierney for O Rehill, Cian Keaney for F Shehu, Liam Maguire for R Brady

Leitrim: Jake Shiels, Ryan Cunningham, Brian Donohoe, Jack Foley, Jamie McGreal, Radek Oberwan, Mark Lenehan, Barry McNulty(1-0), Gavin Reynolds, Ben McGuckin, Michael McKiernan, Emmet Regan, Conor Quinn, Paul Moran(1-6,5f), Daniel Bosquette

Subs: Tommy Taylor for B Donohoe, Jack Casey(0-1f), Paddy Keane, Kyle McCrann.