Roscommon’s youngsters blow Cavan out of the water in second half
Home side can only manage five points as they bow out of championship
Roscommon’s Neil Collins avoids the challenge of Cavan’s Michael Lynch during the All-Ireland SFC Qualifier at Kingspan Breffni Park. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho
Cavan 0-5 Roscommon 0-16
Roscommon’s under-21 luminaries lit up a dank Kingspan Breffni Park as hosts Cavan went down to one of their heaviest championship defeats for many years in Saturday’s SFC Qualifer.
In the sides’ first championship meeting in 52 years, the westerners’ young guns shot the Ulstermen out of the water with some clinical shooting in the second half.
Roscommon played a slow-burner type of game, out-scoring their impotent opponents by 13 points to three after the restart to win pulling up.
Scores were as rare as the sound of the corncrake in Cavan these days in a desperately poor first half.
Wind-aided Cavan played towards the town end of the park in the first half but it was Roscommon who threatened to go to town.
They were the more adventurous side from the get-go but laboured badly to convert hard-won possession into the hard-coinage of scores.
With regular free-taker Donie Shine ruled out, the match outsiders sent five scoreable frees wide of the target in the opening half hour to let comatose Cavan off the hook.
Cavan were crab-like in their movement and their uber-defensive set-up negated against the best efforts of midfielder Gearoid McKiernan and go-to attacker Eugene Keating to get their side out of the starting blocks.
Incredibly, it was all of 17 minutes before the deadlock was broken with under-21 star Diarmuid Murtagh’s sweet left-footed free splitting the posts.
On a sodden pitch made even more greasy by continuous rain, a raft of spillages and turnovers pock-marked the contest and diluted the quality of the fare.
Both sides struggled to get to grips with the testing conditions and perspiration overwhelmed inspiration throughout the first half.
Siting 13 men inside their own half, Cavan tested the patience of their fans to the full but, crucially, failed to test Roscommon goalkeeper O’Malley to any degree.
At the other end of the field, Jack Brady and Keating ploughed a lone furrow inside Roscommon’s 45-metre line and were forced to work on scraps of possession.
Amazingly, it was 28 minutes before the hosts opened their account when sweeper Martin Reilly arrowed over a point from long distance.
Ahead by 0-3 to 0-2 at the interval, Roscommon took a leaf out of Cavan’s book by making their half look like O’Connell Street on St Patrick’s Day on the restart.
Out-biffed in the close exchanges and out-fought under the breaking ball, Cavan continued to tread deep water and matters just went from bad to worse for them.
Five turnovers in a row in a 12-minute period either side of the third quarter reflected Roscommon’s greater bite and appetite for the fray as Cavan heads went down.
Roscommon’s play in the final quarter was laced with a swagger and a brilliant move from the full-back line ended with Cregg scoring and then an excellent Enda Smith effort made it a nine-point game.
Cavan desperately sought the goals that would get them out of jail but Neil Collins effected a brilliant block from Martin Reilly’s piledriver on 53 minutes.
Classy Murtagh and substitute Donie Smith both notched a brace for the leaders in the run-in as efforts from Philip Tinnelly and Martin Reilly helped take some of the bad look off the scoreboard for Cavan.
CAVAN: C Gilsenan; J McLoughlin, K Brady, F Flanagan; J Hayes, James McEnroe, R Maloney-Derham; D O’Reilly, G McKiernan; M Argue (0-1), M Lyng, N McDermott; J Brady, E Keating (0-1), M Reilly (0-2).
Subs: M McKeever for J Hayes (half-time); D Givney for M Lyng (45 mins); P Tinnelly (0-1) for R Maloney-Derham (49 mins); T Mooney for N McDermott (53 mins); N Murray for J Brady (67 mins); T Corr for M Argue (69 mins).
ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley; S McDermott N Collins, N Carty; D Keenan, N Daly, C Cafferkey; C Shine, K Higgins; D O’Gara, E Smith (0-4), C Daly (0-2); S Kilbride, C Cregg (0-3), D Murtagh (0-5, one free).
Subs: R Stack for D Keenan (half-time); D Smith (0-2) for D O’Gara (53 mins); M Nally for C Daly (58 mins); I Kilbride for N Daly (63 mins); M Finneran for E Smith (68 mins); C Murtagh for D Murtagh (68 mins).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)