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PREVIEW: Cavan fancied to take win against Louth

Story by Paul Fitzpatrick

Friday, 2nd February, 2018 11:48am

PREVIEW: Cavan fancied to take win against Louth

Dara McVeety in action against Clare last Saturday.

Paul Fitzpatrick

Cavan and Louth go into tomorrow night's (Saturday, 7pm) clash at Kingspan Breffni with a similar context hanging over their preparations.

Neither side were in this division last year (Cavan came down, Louth came up) but both are dealing with a huge turnover in personnel.

Cavan's losses have been well advertised by now and members of the squad have referenced the “doom and gloom” around the team's chances which has been there, in the background, among the fans and which was exacerbated by a record 21-point home trimming against Tyrone in the final McKenna Cup.

However, all changed utterly in Ennis last Sunday. Considering the Blues were in Division 1 12 month ago and had their sights on at leats an Ulster final appearance, the fact that there was such delight (among the fans who stayed on to clap the team off the field and among the management) about securing a draw against relegation favourites Clare says a lot about where the team is now at,

However, there is no doubt that the point was earned in stirring fashion. Cavan looked dead and buried approaching the home stretch but clawed it back and could even have won the game.

It's safe to say, then, that while there is a deficit in experience on the panel, which has not been helped by a injury crisis which is only slowly clearing up, there is no shortage of heart.

And heart goes a long way. While there's a concern that the Blues are not in a winning habit (with just two league and championship victories from their last 12 matches going back to the champions exit in 2016), that run has to end some time and why not now?

In the red corner, Louth, under that great GAA gentleman Peter McGrath, lost their opening game against Down in Drogheda last week but there were still positives to take.

Above: Eugene Keating and Adrian Reid in action in the 2011 game. Pic: Adrian Donohoe

The sole suvivor of the 2010 Leinster final, when the Wee County was infamously robbed, is star midfielder and captain Andy McDonnell. He has struck up a good partnership with the solid Tommy Durnin, who is also good for a point most days.

Up front, debutant William Woods really stood up the mark last weekend with six points.

and best of the rest was Derek Maguire, former forward turned sweeper who is key to Louth's gameplan.

The bookmakers make Cavan 1/3 favourites to take the win which is surprising given their very poor home record over the last four years. Mattie McGleenan sounded a positive note last week and said that he has no doubt the famed (but fickle!) Breffni support will turn out in numbers tonight.

Will they have a win to cheer about? There will be nothing easy but if they can replicate the battling spirit shown last week and if Cian Mackey can conjure some more magic like he did when he came off the bench in Ennis, they will feel they have every chance of extending their unbeaten record.

For the record, the sides last met on April 2, 2011, with Cavan (under a former Louth manager, incidentally, in Val Andrews) winning by 0-11 to 1-5.

Only four of those who featured in that game seven years ago remain involved with Cavan, namely Mackey, Gearoid McKiernan, Sean Johnston (who returned to training this week) and Niall Murray, who is currently injured.

The teams on that occasion were:

CAVAN: J Reilly; O Minagh, T Corr, D O’dowd; M McKeever (0-1), P O’Reilly, D O’Reilly; J McCutcheon, G McKiernan (0-3); N Murray, R Cullivan, R Flanagan (0-1); N McDermott (0-3, 0-1 free), E Keating, C Mackey (0-2, frees). Subs: S Jordan for Keating (h-t); G Smith for Jordan (54 mins); S Johnston (0-1) for Cullivan (58 mins); M Brennan for McKiernan (63 mins); K Fannin for Murray (69 mins).

LOUTH: S Connor; D Byrne, A Hoey, G Hoey; D Crilly, D Finnegan, S Fitzpatrick; R Carroll, B Donnelly; A McDonnell, P Keenan (0-2), R Finnegan; D Maguire, P Smith (0-2), C Judge. subs: M Brennan (1-0) for D Maguire (half-time); E McAuley (0-1) for S Fitzpatrick (half-time); A Reid for A McDonnell (44 mins); J Carr for D Finnegan (47 mins); JP Rooney for C Judge (54 mins).

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