ANTRIM were no match for a well-trained, physically superior Cavan team at Corrigan Park, Belfast on Saturday.
The Saffrons enjoyed the same appreciation for most of the first half, but when Breffni’s side launched an explosive four-point scoring burst just after the break and that was complemented by a red card for Michael McCann, the home side had no response .
A 13-point lead separated the teams at the finish, and while Cavan boss Mickey Graham was pleased with the way his charges went about their task, he knows much greater challenges lie ahead.
“Our substitutes made a great impression when they came on, particularly Martin Reilly, and we’re going to be returning a few more players this week which will be a huge help.”
“But look, we managed to win next season against an Antrim team who play in Division Three like ourselves, but the real test for us will come when we play the winners from Ballybofey (Donegal ) compete.”
“That will show us more than anything else where we stand. It will certainly put more pressure on us, but that also helps keep everyone on their toes. Our appetites were questioned during the league but let’s face it, it’s all about the Ulster Championship. Everything we plan and do is focused on the championship.”
With forward Paddy Lynch (0-8 goalscorer) and Gearóid McKiernan making convincing hauls and carries, Cavan rarely conceded.
Padraig Faulkner and Jason McLoughlin were vital cogs in a disciplined defense and with Gerard Smith also a major influence on scoring chances, the Breffni men’s momentum overwhelmed the home team in the second half.
With Lynch scoring practically at will, Cavan built a four-point lead (0-11 to 0-7) and then extended that with absolute ease. McCann’s sending off left Antrim visibly unsettled and when McKiernan scored the only goal of the game in the 59th minute it was all over for the home side.
Cavan: P Lynch 0-8 (5 fs, 1 ‘m’); G McKiernan 1-2 (1f), G Smith 0-3; M Reilly 0-2; J Smith, Cormac O’Reilly, R Galligan (f), J McLoughlin, P Faulkner 0-1 each.
Antrim: R Murray 0-3; D McAleese, P McAleer, C Stewart, M McCann, K Small, J Gribbon, C Murray (f) 0-1 each.
CAVAN – R. Galligan 7; J McLoughlin 8, P Faulkner 8, K Brady 7; L Fortune 7, K Clarke 7, Conor Brady 7; T Galligan 7, J Smith 7; G Smith 8, G McKiernan 9, C Moynagh 7; C O’Reilly 7, P Lynch 9, C Madden 7 Subs: C Conroy 6 for K Brady (55), M Reilly 7 for O’Reilly (57), Caoimhin O’Reilly for Madden (65), Ciaran Brady for Conor Brady (67), R O’Neill for P Lynch (70).
ANTRIM – M. Byrne 8; E McCabe 7, P Healy 7, D McAleese 7; P McAleer6, J Laverty 7, M Jordan 6; K Klein 6, M McCann 6; Ryan Murray 8, C Stewart 6, R McCann 6; O Eastwood 6, C Murray 6, T McCann 6. Subs: J Gribbon 5 for R McCann (13), P McBride 5 for O Eastwood (ht), D Lynch 6 for T McCann (ht), B McCormick for J Laverty ( 64), P McCormick for E McCabe (64).
REF- J Henry (Mayo)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/graham-knows-bigger-tests-await-as-cavan-dismiss-antrim-41583740.html Graham knows there are bigger tests ahead if Cavan Antrim is released