Cavan hold on as Westmeath run out of time with late fightback
Paul Bealin’s charges booking their place in the next round of the All-Ireland SFC qualfiers
Cavan’s Killian Brady puts Paul Sharry of Westmeath under pressure during Saturday’s All-Ireland senior championship qualifier at Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan. Photograph: Inpho
In the first senior championship meeting of the counties, Westmeath launched a sprint finish but ran out of time at Kingspan/Breffni Park on Saturday.
Westmeath trailed by seven points with 13 minutes of play left but their gallop to the finishing post was all to no avail.
A preponderance of turnovers decorated proceedings in a low-scoring first half which saw Callum McCormack’s peach of a point give Westmeath the lead after just seven minutes.
Not for the first time, Cavan midfielder Gearóid McKiernan proved to be the fulcrum around which Cavan weaved their more fruitful patterns. By the 27th minute Cavan were ahead by 0-5 to 0-4 with McKiernan’s 14th-minute point on the run a trademark effort.
Westmeath had to tip their forelock to Cavan’s greater mobility and pace but they were stronger in the tackle and more accurate with their shooting at goal and also their kick-passing. On a perfect day for football the fare served up was mostly of an imperfect nature but two quick-fire points from Ger Egan in the run-in to the break were a purist’s delight.
Westmeath ought to have bagged the game’s opening goal in the 41st minute when a great move involving Kieran Martin and James Dolan saw John Heslin burst through but his chest-high shot was beaten out by Cavan goalkeeper Gilsenan. Cavan turned the screw in the third quarter, resulting in Westmeath’s 0-7 to 0-6 lead morphing into a 0-8 to 1-11 deficit 15 minutes into the second half.
Niall McDermott’s goal on 43 minutes was the hosts’ crucial score of the afternoon with good foraging by Michael Argue and a sweet one-two with team-mate Givney allowing the goalscorer to find the net from point-blank range.
It looked from that juncture as if Cavan were going to go on and win pulling up but the lack of a killer punch in their locker continued to offer the visitors a glimmer of hope.
Westmeath seemed to get their second wind despite playing into the stiffening wind leaving Cavan to look to their laurels in a major way.
Palmed goalJohn Gilligan
Westmeath proceeded to launch raid after raid on Cavan’s goal.
Cavan worked overtime to keep their fast-finishing opponents at bay and while John Heslin’s third converted free after 72 minutes left just the minimum between the sides, it was too little too late for the Leinstermen.
CAVAN: C Gilsenan; J McLoughlin, R Dunne, K Brady; J Hayes (0-1), J McEnroe, R Maloney-Derham (0-1); D Reilly, G McKiernan (0-1); M Argue (0-2), M Lyng (0-2), N McDermott (1-3, two frees); J Brady (0-3, one free), D Givney (0-1), M Reilly. Subs: E Keating (0-1) for D Givney (52 mins); T Corr for D O’Reilly (60 mins); C Mackey for M Lyng (62 mins); A Clarke for N McDermott (70 mins); M McKeever for K Brady (black card 71 mins). WESTMEATH: D Quinn; D Dolan, K Gavin, K Maguire; A Burke, P Sharry (1-3, two frees, one 45), J Dolan; D Duffy, J Gilligan; C McCormack (0-3), G Egan (0-2), K Martin (0-1); L Smyth, J Heslin (0-3, frees), D Dolan (0-2). Subs: Alan Coffey for A Burke (40 mins); Ronan Foley for L Smyth (47 mins); Denis Corroon for D Duffy (59 mins); Denis Glennon for K Gavin (61 mins). Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).