Cavan make it two from two in London
Tailteann Cup round 2
Paul Fitzpatrick at McGovern Park
Cavan made it two wins from two with this fairly hard-earned victory over London at a blustery McGovern Park in Ruislip.
The Division 3 champions, who opened their Tailteann campaign with a nine-point win over Laois, came into the match as red-hot favourites against a London side who seeking their first victory of the year in league or championship. However, the visitors were made to work hard for the win, with Michael Maher’s charges turning in their best performance since the early rounds of the league.
The main concern for Cavan will be injury for Padraig Faulkner, although hopes are high it will not be as serious as it looked at the time, as he went down in some distress in the second half but was able to make his way around to the dug-out unassisted after a period of time.
The sides had met three times since 2013, with Cavan winning all, although they hung on to win by only a point in the National League meeting at this venue last season. The Blues looked like they would win by whatever they wanted when they led by 0-16 to 1-6 entering the final quarter but a well-taken goal from former Derry player Enda Lynn dragged London back to within four and made for a slightly nervy finish.
London have lost momentum since last year, with a lengthy injury list not helping, but their counter-attacking game was impressive here and they certainly kept Cavan honest, creating five goal chances over the 70 minutes.
At half-time, Cavan were ahead by 0-8 to 1-4, having played against a very strong breeze. The home side fell behind by two early on but rallied well and were more than a match for Mickey Graham’s men for the remainder of the half, the highlight of which was a well-taken breakaway goal finished by Liam Gallagher 20 minutes in.
Cavan started on the front foot with a real intensity about them and eased into a two-point lead with scores from Paddy Lynch (free) and Tiarnan Madden, after good work from his brother Cian and Ryan O’Neill.
London responded with a long-range, wind-assisted free from the lively Liam Gavaghan and a mark from Joshua Obahar.
James Smith and Gavaghan, with another free from distance, traded scores and although frees from Lynch and Gearoid McKiernan put two between them, London hit the front for the first time when a perfectly-placed handpass from Gavaghan released Liam Gallagher, who blasted to the net.
A textbook dispossession from Oisin Kiernan, one of Cavan’s stand-out players alongside Killian Clarke, denied another goal and Cavan responded well with a fisted point from Ryan O’Neill and a score from Oisin Brady.
After a quick kick-out, London again cut Cavan open but had to settle for a half-volleyed point from Daniel Clarke.
Kiernan’s trademark curled point from the left wing saw Cavan go in holding a slender lead but with the wind at their backs, they pulled clear on the resumption.
Two Lynch frees and a 35-metre point from play from clubmate Smith left four between them, with London’s Clarke seeing a punched effort strike the outside of the upright.
McKiernan registered from play after Ciaran Brady forced a turnover and a 45-metre Lynch free made it 0-13 to 1-4.
Sub Lynn immediately made his presence felt with a deft pass to Clarke; Cavan were lucky to concede just a point from a free, Gavaghan the scorer.
Jonny McCabe pointed under pressure before Niall Carolan intervened as London again bore down on goal, Gavaghan profiting once more from a resulting free.
McKiernan hooked over from play and Lynch knocked over another free as Cavan stretched their legs but disaster struck as Christopher Farley found Lynn, who turned sharply and rattled the net. To make matters worse, Cavan full-back Padraig Faulkner got injured in the move and limped off.
The Blues held possession in the following pssages of play, taking the sting out of London who were buoyed by the major. Lynch fired over an important point off the left and as the tempo waned, sub Conor Rehill thumped over a 40-metre score as Cavan ran out winners with six points to spare.
Cavan: Raymond Galligan, Killian Clarke, Padraig Faulkner, Niall Carolan, Ciaran Brady, Oisin Kiernan (0-1), Cian Madden, Conor Brady, James Smith (0-2), Jonathan McCabe (0-1), Gearoid McKiernan (0-3, 1f), Tiarnan Madden (0-1), Ryan O’Neill (0-1), Paddy Lynch (0-7, 6f), Oisin Brady (0-1)
Subs: Brandon Boylan for R O’Neill (52), Conor Rehill (0-1) for J Smith (58), Cian Reilly for P Faulkner (59), Martin Reilly for O Brady (63), Tristan Noach Hoffman for T Madden (66)
London: Andrew Walsh, Daire Rooney, Michael Clarke, Nathan McElwaine, Ronan Sloan, Cahir Healy, Eoin Walsh, Josh Obahor (0-1m), Liam Gallagher (1-0), Conal Gallagher, Daniel Clarke (0-1), Aidan McLoughlin, Ryan Tohill, Liam Gavaghan (0-4f), Fiontan Eastwood
Subs: Enda Lynn (1-0) for R Tohill (47), Christopher Farley for R Sloan (51), Henry Walsh for N McElwaine (63), Fionn Gallagher for J Obahor (64)
Ref: John Gilmartin (Sligo)