Cavan 2-13 Carlow 0-12
Cavan withstood the challenge of a determined Carlow side to book their place in Round 3 of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers, with a seven-point win at Kingspan Breifni Park.
The hosts were pushed all the way in this game, before a 50th minute Cian Mackey goal opened a 2-9 to 0-8 lead, an advantage the Breifni County maintained until the end.
Cavan were hit two blows inside the next three minutes, with Eugene Keating exiting following a black card, while Dara McVeety was handed his marching orders after a straight red card.
Carlow continued to work hard, but relied heavily on scores from placed balls.
Despite matching their opponents score-for-score until the finish, including a fine point from play from Alan Kelly in the fifth minute of injury-time, Cavan done enough to book their place in Monday mornings Qualifier draw.
Cavan led throughout this contest and started brightly, with Eugene Keating netting their opening goal after just two minutes, to ensure a 1-1 to 0-0 lead, but Carlow always made it tough.
The gap between league placings certainly wasn’t in evidence in the opening half, as although facing a stiff wind, and a team contesting Division 1 next season, Carlow pushed hard.
Scores from Daniel St. Ledger and Eoghan Ruth cut the gap to two points, with Ruth slotting over a fine point off the outside of his boot against the elements.
Carlow looked like taking the lead after Darragh Foley punched a dipping St. Ledger free to the net, but his effort was ruled out for a square ball.
Gearoid McKieran’s first point of the day ended Cavan’s 13-minute scoring drought, before Foley and St. Ledger points cut the gap to the minimum in the 20th minute.
Carlow chased an equaliser, but it never arrived despite gaining possession after a poor kick-out by Ray Galligan.
Mackey ensured a 1-3 to 0-4 lead, but Cavan were wasteful with Sean Johnston and McKiernan both firing wide of the posts.
Full-forward Foley cut the gap to the minimum with a pointed free after 28 minutes, but Cavan dominated possession from there until the interval.
The hosts added three unanswered points from McKiernan, Killian Clarke and McKiernan again, but were also guilty of two wides during this period as they took a 1-6 to 0-5 interval lead.
Jack Brady, scorer of three points as a substitute in the drawn Ulster semi-final with Tyrone was sprung from the bench at the interval, and certainly made his presence felt on the restart.
Brady delivered a ball to Eugene Keating for Cavan’s first score of the second half, which was quickly cancelled out by another score from St Ledger from a placed ball.
Both sides were guilty of misses in front of the posits, with Keating and Foley firing wide.
A 44th minute pointed free from Johnston ensured all of Cavan’s six starting forwards were on target, as his side took a 1-8 to 0-6 advantage.
Carlow were effective at midfield, winning the bulk of the kick outs, and this helped Darragh O’Brien to fire his only score, with an excellent shot from distance.
Carlow were dealt a major blow after losing the influential Darragh Foley to a black card, after Mackey was held back, but the Barrowsiders never gave up.
Johnston and Chris Blake traded points from frees over a four-minute spell, to ensure a four-point gap with 20 minutes remaining.
However, this was as close as it got for Carlow, as from the kick-out, Cavan pushed hard, with Johnston and Jack Brady setting up a good move before Mackey finished to the net from his right boot.
A frantic few minutes followed, with Mackey shown a yellow card; Keating handed a black card and McVeety dismissed on a red card.
St Ledger cut the gap to six points on two occasions, either side of a Johnston score, but Tom Hayes was a settling force for Cavan, as Keating’s replacement helped keep the visitors at arms length.
Hayes and John Murphy swapped points from play, before two McKiernan scores ensured a 2-13 to 0-11 lead in the second minute of injury-time.
Carlow never stopped going with Alan Kelly sneaking in for a late score, but Cavan had done enough.
CAVAN: Raymond Galligan; Killian Brady, Rory Dunne, Padraig Faulkner; Feargal Flanagan, Conor Moynagh, Ciaran Brady; Tomas Corr, Liam Buchanan; Dara McVeety (0-1), Gearoid McKiernan (0-5, 2f), Killian Clarke (0-1); Cian Mackey (1-1), Eugene Keating (1-1), Sean Johnston (0-3, 3f). Subs: Martin Reilly for Buchanan (23); Jack Brady for K Brady (HT); Tom Hayes (0-1) for Keating (BC) (53); Niall Murray for C Brady (60).
CARLOW: Robbie Molloy; Barry John Molloy, Daniel St Ledger (0-5, 5f), Kieran Nolan; Gary Kelly, John Murphy (0-1), Brendan Kavanagh; Eoghan Ruth (0-1), Sean Gannon; Alan Kelly (0-1), Darragh O’Brien (0-1), Hughie Gahan; Chris Blake (0-1, 1f), Darragh Foley (0-2, 2f), Donal Smithers. Subs: Diarmuid Walshe for Smithers (44); Danny Moran for O’Brien (60); Paul O’Halloran for Blake (67); Brian Cawley for Nolan (69); Cathal Bailey for Ruth (74).
REFEREE: Fergal Kelly (Longford)