Cavan U17s slipped to defeat against Derry in this entertaining match played in bright conditions at Owenbeg last evening.
The sides were level after an entertaining first half. Derry, playing with the benefit of the breeze, looked dangerous in attack, with their full-forward line particularly lively, but after some nervy moments early on, the visitors slowly got to grips with them.
Caoimhan McGovern opened the scoring for Cavan with an excellent individual point but Matthew Downey replied with two and Enda Downey one to open a two-point gap.
McGovern won and converted a 40-metre free from the ground for Cavan's second and Gary Farrelly's side soon levelled when Colin McKiernan fisted over after a nice handpassing move.
Enda and Matthew Downey soon added two more from play before Daryl McGurren hit back with a great score for Cavan from play and one free to tie the game on 18 minutes.
Derry almost got in for a goal only for a timely interception from Cian Reilly and, at the other end, Cavan had a good chance themselves, Caolan McCabe's low shot whizzing past the butt of the post.
Jamie Dougan pointed for Derry before Cavan enjoyed a golden 60-second spell. First Jack Tully kept in a wayward McGovern free and pointed from an extremely difficult angle and then, when Derry fluffed the kick-out and Cavan intercepted, Tully was on hand to smash to the net to make it 1-6 to 0-6.
But Derry responded well and would account for four of the next five points, with a left-footed free from McGurren Cavan's only score as the teams went in tied at the break.
Cavan came out on the front foot in the second half, sub Matthew McGahern winning the throw-in and teeing McGovern up for a good point off the left.
Full-back Peter Smith strode forward to drive over a super score from long range four minutes later to make it 1-9 to 0-10 but Derry hit back with a free from Enda Downey.
Back came Cavan with another quality point, this time sweeper Evan Kelly bursting forward and laying off for Caolan McCabe to slot over but, again, Derry replied from a dead ball, this time Matthew Downey doing the honours.
Cavan, with the wind, were utilising the direct ball inside at times but were gaining little reward from it and were caught on the counter on a few occasions after Derry mopped up and broke out.
The Blues looked most comfortable running the ball but seemed to tire as the match went on and the home side finally turned the screw in the last quarter.
Points from sub Marc Dixon and Matthew Downey put two between the teams and although McGurren hit back with a much-needed free for Cavan, Enda Downey cancelled it out with one of his own and further points from Dougan and Matthew Downey helped Derry ease home.
Caolan McCabe struck a good point for Cavan but Enda Downey replied with a free and that was that.
While Cavan were disappointed, this was a good performance overall – there was just a point between the teams with 11 minutes remaining. Cavan ran out of gas and had some problems with their own kick-out and delivery to the full-forward line but overall, manager Gary Farrelly and his back-room team have plenty of reasons for optimism as they enter the ‘back door’.
Cavan: Brían O’Rourke (Ballyhaise), Cian Reily (Killygarry), Peter Smith (Lavey), Ronan Trainor (Cornafean), Jack Tully (Cavan Gaels), James McCahill (Drumlane), Caolan McCabe (Denn), Philip Smyth (Cuchulainns), Caoimhán McGovern (Shannon Gaels), Colin McKiernan (Ballyhaise), Fionntán O’Reilly (Butlersbridge), Tiarnan Madden (Gowna), Evan Kelly (Laragh), Daryl McGurren (Drumlane), Caolan O’Reilly (Mullahoran)
Subs: Matthew McGahern (Mullahoran) for C O’Reily (ht), Emmanuel Shehu (Cavan Gaels) for Tully (48 mins), Shane Tynan (Ballymachugh) (52 mins), Cian Farrelly for McKiernan (55 mins), Jack Mooney for Madden (59)
See this week's print issue for full report and reaction.