Cavan ended a seven-decade wait for soccer silver at Croke Park yesterday as they clinched the Division 4 Allianz Finals title at Croke Park.
Goals in both halves from man of the match Paddy Lynch, both safe from counter-attacks the length of the field, decided a game in which the sides were even on nine occasions.
“The goals were huge,” said Cavan boss Mickey Graham. “We played against Tipp in Kingspan Breffni and had these chances to score, but we didn’t take them. Today we took them and that was the difference.
“The main goal at the start of the season was getting promoted back to Division 3. That’s an added bonus. Every day you come down to Croke Park and fight for silver, it’s nice to walk away with it.”
Tipperary boss David Power indicated that the better team lost.
“I thought we were the better team in the second half, only a couple of important turnovers cost us.
“We got 15 points; They got 12 which would suggest there was very little in it and we hit the bar towards the end. With five minutes left we probably panicked. We didn’t have to force it that much because we thought we could have gotten that score.”
From Tipperary’s perspective, management’s decision to retire Mark Russell, a son of former All-Ireland umpire Paddy Russell, was confusing to put it mildly.
He scored three great first-half points to put Tipp back in the game after Lynch scored Cavan’s first goal in the 23rd minute.
He had just scored his fourth point to put Tipp in the lead when he was substituted in the 52nd minute. Before his departure, he was the front runner for Man of the Match nomination. Power explained the reasoning behind the decision.
“Mark actually signaled that he should be relegated. He was only there this year and he did very, very well and if you look at all our games he comes off about the 50th minute,” Power said.
After drawing against Waterford in Round 1 and losing to Leitrim in the next round, Tipperary turned his season around and promotion to Division 3 last Saturday night was the big deal, according to Power. “Compared to where we were at Dungarvan (vs Waterford) it’s almost chalk and cheese. The tip guys can be very proud of themselves. We’re a good work-in-progress,” he said.
In the early slugfest there was nothing between the sides; The sides were evenly matched on three occasions as both struggled to penetrate each other’s massed defenses.
The game took its first decisive turn after 23 minutes. A brilliant pass from Conor Sweeney got Bill Maher through to the Canal End goals but he couldn’t get his shot off.
The ball spilled and Cavan swept down the field before Tipperary had a chance to get his full defense in place. Lynch broke free of his marker and was ideally positioned to receive Stephen Smith’s accurate pass and he slammed the ball into the corner of the net to give Cavan a four-point lead.
Luke Fortune missed another scoring opportunity for Cavan after another great assist from Smith, but Russell’s three great long-range points pulled Tipp back into contention. In the last game of the first half, Cavan goaltender Raymond Galligan converted a 45 to give his side a point advantage at the break (1-5 to 0-7). Ultimately, it was a crucial result.
The score rate improved in the third quarter, with Tipp taking control largely due to the influence of former All-Star Conor Sweeney. They beat the Ulster side 6-3 and led by two points in the 54th minute. But Cavan hit a purple speck when it mattered to go 1-2 with the next eight minutes.
But the drama was far from over. A free Sweeney made it a two-pointer and substitute Stephen Quirke was unlucky to see his close-range shot ricochet off the underside of the Cavan crossbar and bounced outside the goal line in the third minute of injury time .
Sweeney added another free-kick but ultimately time was running out for Tipperary as they looked for an equalizer that would have forced extra time in what was a fun contest.
Scorers: Cavan: P. Lynch 2-3 (1m, 1f); G McKiernan, C Moynagh, R Galligan (‘ 45), P. Faulkner, C. Madden, J. Smith, S. Smith 0-1 each.
Tipperary: C. Sweeney 0-6 (3f); M Russell 0-4; M O’Shea 0-2; T Doyle, J Kennedy (1f), K Fahey each 0-1.
Cavan: R. Galligan; Moynagh C, Faulkner P, Finnegan E; Fortune L, Brady K, McLoughlin J; G McKiernan, K Clarke; G Smith, T Galligan, C Madden; Lynch P, Smith J, Smith S. Substitutes: C Brady for K Brady (47), C O’Reilly for Madden (49), C Madden for G Smith (60), C Conroy for E Finnegan (62), N Murray for S Smith (70 +5).
Tipperary: M O’Reilly; S O’Connell, J Feehan, J Harney; K Fahey, C O’Shaughnessy, T Maher; C Kennedy, M Russell; B Maher, J Kennedy, T Doyle; M O’Shea, C Sweeney, S O’Connor Subs: C Deeley for O’Connor (19), W Eviston for Harney (50), S Quirke for Russell (54), B Hewitt for Deeley (65), M Kehoe for Maher (70).
Referee: John Hickey (Carlow)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/mickey-graham-delight-as-cavan-secure-bonus-of-division-4-title-41515345.html Mickey Graham celebrates as Cavan and secures Division 4 title win