Fermanagh 0-11 Cavan 0-13
Cavan produced a Barack Obama ‘yes we can’ moment in Brewster Park yesterday to secure their first back-to-back wins in the Ulster championship since 2001.
Fears over traffic chaos due to the forthcoming G8 summit deterred a lot of supporters from travelling to Brewster Park, particularly the Erne fans, who were vastly outnumbered on their home pitch.
In the end, there were no sightings of any world leaders nor the merest hint of any traffic problems.
The only thing that was congested in Enniskillen was the Cavan defence, which put up a road block around their own ‘45metre line which Fermanagh struggled to breach.
Cavan’s inner belief was remarkable; they played with a confidence which belied their lack of success at senior level but the significance of their three successive Ulster U21 titles is beginning to show on the big stage.
Fermanagh had a terrible start and failed to score until the 26th minute, by which stage Cavan had scored four points.
The latter had all the intensity and started at a fast tempo which seemed to catch Fermanagh by surprise.
Cavan knew Fermanagh would not afford them the same room as Armagh last time out and had planned accordingly.
They still sat deep but opted for long-range point-taking rather than feed their two inside men with Damien O’Reilly and Niall McDermott both picking off left-footed scores from distance inside the first five minutes.
McDermott followed up with a free and Cian Mackey – who blocked and tackled and harried – somehow found the energy to get forward and score Cavan’s fourth unanswered point in the 23rd minute.
Fermanagh — who had made three changes to their starting line-up before the throw-in — were rattled. They were ponderous, slow to anticipate breaks and frequently had the ball ripped away from them as soon as they tried to breach the Cavan ‘45 line.
Shane McCabe was a case in point; too many times he tried to carry the ball into traffic and got turned over.
26 minutes had elapsed before Ryan Jones got their first point of the game. But the response from the visitors was instant — Martin Dunne stroking one over from an acute angle.
Cavan held their hosts at arms length for the remainder of the half and despite eight wides, were good value for a 0-7 to 0-3 interval lead.
Fermanagh were kept in the dressing room for quite a while and Peter Canavan’s words must have had the desired effect because within five minutes, his side had scored three points in a row to close to within a point.
Every time they rallied, however, Cavan seemed to be able to get the point they needed to pull away again.
Keating and Dunne played well in the second-half, and showed constantly for the ball.
Eoin Donnelly, on the other hand, back after breaking his leg during the league, was outstanding for Fermanagh.
Playing around the middle, he drove forward and along with Marty O’Brien was one of the few Erne men capable of carrying the ball.
After a few attempts, they finally got the equalising score in the 56th minute through a Kille free.
It was the first and only time the sides were level in the whole game. But having got there, they couldn’t get their noses in front.
There were nine tense minutes, between the 56th and 65th, when the sides were locked at 0-11 each.
Both sides missed chances. Both knew that the next score would more than likely be the winning one.
It was Martin Dunne who provided it, spinning free from John Woods and splitting the posts.
The same player then missed a free but got another chance and converted it, condemning Fermanagh to their seventh straight championship defeat. Cavan had beaten Canavan’s side in Enniskillen in the qualifiers last year and while yesterday’s result was not as emphatic, it’s one that is a shattering blow to the Erne men who are without a top flight win since beating Cavan in 2010.
Scorers for Fermanagh: D Kille 0-4 (4f), T Corrigan 0-2, D McCusker, E Donnelly, M McGrath, R Jones, S Quigley 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cavan: M Dunne 0-5 (2f), E Keating 0-3, N McDermott 0-2 (1f), C Mackey, D O’Reilly, M Reilly 0-1 each.
Subs for Cavan: D McKiernan for McEnroe (27), M Reilly for Brady (41), T Corr for D McKiernan (50), N Murray for McDermott (70).
Subs for Fermanagh: T Corrigan for Ward (29), D Kille for C Quigley (HT), S Lyons for McGrath (51), B Owens for S Quigley (65).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).