Monaghan 1-12 Cavan 1-13 26/1/11
Monaghan fell to their third straight defeat in the Dr. McKenna Cup despite a strong second-half comeback against Cavan in Inniskeen on Wednesday evening. In a game where both goalkeepers saved penalties, the damage was done in the first half, after which Monaghan trailed by eight points and although Eamon McEneaney’s side rallied after the restart, hitting 1-5 without reply in a 12-minute spell, a more experienced Cavan team closed the game out. Monaghan made nine changes from the team that lost to Derry, with Gary Boyd and Ronan Meegan making their debuts, while Darren Connolly and Colin Woods got their first starts. Gary Ward made his debut off the bench and Dessie Mone returned for the first time this year. Paul Finlay impressed again for Monaghan, kicking eight points, while Kieran Duffy and subs James Turley and Gavin Doogan also showed well. Keith Fannin, Cian Mackey, Michael Brennan, Eoin Smith and Pádraig O’Reilly led the way for Cavan.
Cavan got off to a flying start with four points in the first six minutes, started by a first-minute effort from Keith Fannin. Michael Brennan got on the end of a long ball from Eoin Smith to fist over and further points by Thomas Corr and Smith made it four-nil before Ronan Meegan got Monaghan off the mark after a Paul Finlay shot had come back off the upright. Cavan won a penalty on 13 minutes when Michael Brennan was fouled, but Monaghan keeper Mark Keogh came to his side’s rescue, as he parried Brennan’s effort for his second penalty save in his first two county games. Finlay got the first of his eight points when he converted a 25-metre free for a foul on Gavin Flanagan, but Fannin replied with a well-taken point after good work by Brendan Fitzpatrick. Cian Mackey tapped over from a 20-metre free after a foul on Fitzpatrick, but a brace of fine points from play by Finlay kept Monaghan in touch. Pádraig O’Reilly restored Cavan’s three-point lead after a one-two with Fannin, before a goal chance went untaken for Monaghan when Dick Clerkin was unable to hold on to an Owen Duffy pass. Mackey linked up with Brennan to kick a good point for Cavan and they struck for the game’s opening goal when Brennan fired home from close-range after he had been well-placed by Fitzpatrick. Ronan Flanagan added a point to give Cavan a comfortable-looking 1-9 to 0-4 lead at half-time.
Monaghan got the first score of the second half through a Finlay point and although Fannin hit back almost immediately, Monaghan then enjoyed a real purple patch. Finlay converted 30-metre frees for fouls on Clerkin and Meegan, either side of Gavin Flanagan’s goal. Flanagan tapped the ball into the empty net after a Finlay centre had fallen for him at the end of a move started by a strong run from Gavin Doogan. James Turley and Paddy Kieran kicked fine points from play to cut Monaghan’s deficit to a point and the hosts drew level when Mark Downey fired over from a goal chance which was created by fellow sub Martin McElroy. Mackey ended 19 scoreless minutes for Cavan when he pointed a 30-metre free, following a foul on Mark McKeever, before Monaghan were awarded a penalty for a foul on McElroy, who had reacted quickest when an Owen Duffy free dropped short. However, Mark Downey saw his shot saved by Cavan keeper James Reilly. Fannin’s fourth point of the game doubled Cavan’s advantage, but Finlay linked up with Kieran to curl over a great score. A Mackey point gave Cavan some breathing space and although Finlay tapped over a close-range free after a foul on Downey, the Breffni men held on to keep their hopes of a semi-final place alive.
Monaghan: M Keogh; K Duffy, S Driver, D Connolly; D Mone, O Duffy, P Kieran (0-1); D Clerkin (Capt.), B McKenna; G Flanagan (1-0), S Smyth, G Boyd; P Finlay (0-8, 4f), C Woods, R Meegan (0-1).
Subs: J Turley (0-1) for Boyd, M Downey (0-1) for Woods, G Doogan for Connolly (all H-T), M McElroy for Meegan (51 mins), G Ward for Flanagan (62).
Cavan: J Reilly; S Jordan, E Smith (0-1), P Cahill; D O’Dowd, A Clarke, D O’Reilly; T Corr (0-1), P O’Reilly (0-1); K Fannin (0-4), A O’Reilly, R Flanagan (0-1); B Fitzpatrick, M Brennan (1-1), C Mackey (0-4, 2f).
Subs: M McKeever for O’Dowd, R Cullivan for A O’Reilly (both 52), C Galligan for Corr (60), G Pearson for Brennan (62), D Sheridan for Smith (69).
Referee: C Branagan (Down).