Dunne’s dream debut helps destroy Armagh’s hopes
Cavan forward kicks eight points from play in a superb individual display
Cavan’s Killian Clarke and Killian Brady contest a for a high ball with with Ethan Rafferty of Armagh during the Ulster Senior Football Championship preliminary round at Breffini Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Some far off day, Martin Dunne will be a quiz question. Last man to score eight points from play on his Ulster Championship debut. For it’s entirely possible that’s what he might turn out to be.
The last man ever to be handed the time and acreage to continually collect, turn and shoot without some class of a system being put in place to stop him.
He was even the tiniest bit surprised himself at the room he was given, remarking that he wouldn’t have been all that used to it in the league. Cavan play in Division Three, remember. Hardly the fires of Hades compared to the usual Ulster fare.
“We haven’t come across that in the league,” he said. “But we were watching clips of Armagh and we saw they play the high-press game and we knew we were going to have lots of space in there. It was just about getting the right ball in.
“It’s always nice to kick scores but if the lads put the ball on a plate it’s my job to kick it over then. There’s a good character in this team. We’ve done a lot of team-building and there’s a good bond between the players. When their goal went in we went up and scored two or three points.”
Armagh’s loose approach to the game dominated the chat afterwards. Although it had been well-flagged that they were going to commit plenty of men to attack, as soon as Cavan’s inside forwards started to dominate it seemed an obvious tactic for Paul Grimley to send a body back to cut off the supply. But he never did. Downright refused to, in fact.
“We were too slow in the first half,” Grimley said. “We had worked on this high-pressure game. We didn’t adapt to it at all in the first half. Second half, probably was a bit more determination, a bit more fluency. We were working it a bit better and taking the right shooting options whereas in the first half we were panic shooting at times.
“You have to give Cavan credit for the tactics they used. I was tempted to go back and use a sweeper. But this is the way we have been working for six months and as I said to the boys, there wouldn’t be much to me if I changed it after 35 minutes.
Aaron Kernan had a quiet day after shipping an early blow in the first half. But as Armagh tried to find a way back into the game after the break, he became more of a force and popped over two frees to shorten the road. Though they came up short in the end, Kernan stood by the Armagh system.
“We knew since January what Paul wanted us to do and we never executed it well enough today, that’s down to the players. Ideally you’d play with a sweeper but we’ve played with a sweeper the last few years and we’ve been beaten
“So this is what we said we’d do at the start of the year and there’s no point in changing halfway through. There’s only one thing we can do and that’s improve on what we’ve been asked to do.”