Cavan boss Aidan McCabe admits that his charges face a difficult assignment against Waterford in next weekend’s TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football championship round 1 qualifier in Clane, writes Jackie Cahill.
Cavan accounted for Laois in last Saturday’s preliminary round clash, with Aisling Doonan and Claragh O’Reilly very much on song.
Doonan bagged 1-5 and O’Reilly added six points as Cavan progressed with ten to spare in Ashbourne.
Laois, in contrast, are facing up to the possibility of intermediate football next year after their interest in the senior championship was brought to an end by their Ulster opponents.
Cavan rattled off six successive points before half-time to gain a firm grip on proceedings, and Doonan’s goal early in the second half had them firmly in the driving seat.
Laois, massive pre-match underdogs, did start with a point from Clare Conlon and they battled gamely, even after Aishling Sheridan had netted Cavan’s opening goal in the second minute.
With 20 minutes on the watch, Cavan were 1-7 to 0-5 clear before they kicked on with a scoring blitz, establishing a 1-13 to 0-6 half-time advantage.
Doonan’s strike ended any slim hopes of a revival for Laois, who lost full-back Jenny McEvoy to the sin-bin.
Caoimhe Simms came off the bench to score a consolation goal for Laois, and Emma Lawlor tested the Cavan woodwork, but the Breffni girls were comfortable winners.
They’ll meet Munster runners-up Waterford next – an emerging team that’s already tasted championship victories over Cork and Kerry this year.
And McCabe said: “We know we’ve a massive task ahead of us, but it’s one we wanted to step up and take on this week so we’re delighted to get that chance.
“If you have forwards, it’s always going to take a good team to stop you and we’ve got some very tidy forwards.
“I don’t know that we clicked all the way today but there were certainly some passages where we were very good, we played some nice football, they’ll get the scores and that’s the way it turned out.”
An area of concern for Cavan was the fact that they only managed four points in the last 27 minutes.
And McCabe realises that a more consistent display is required to tackle Pat Sullivan’s Waterford.
He said: “At half time, it was a case of push on and don’t open the door, and we didn’t open the door for Laois but we didn’t push on either, and that’s disappointing.
“They know that themselves, some of the forwards played very well but we left plenty behind us and it gives us plenty to work on for next week.”
Laois boss Kevin Doogue conceded: “They were just better on the day, they were better at running off the shoulder.
“They’ll be a tough match for anyone, they’ll give Waterford a very good game next week.
“We have no excuses, it was the same (warm) conditions for both teams and they were just a little bit better on the day.
“We had a couple of goal chances but what happened at the end probably summed up our day – we worked the ball up the field, smacked it off the post and it went wide.
“When we went down to 14, we performed very well as well, we pushed on, but they’re a good side, players like Donna English and Aisling Doonan are just very good players.”
Cavan Scorers: A Doonan 1-5 (0-2f), C O’Reilly 0-6 (0-1f), A Sheridan 1-1, C Smith 0-2, D English, S McGovern & S McKenna 0-1 each.
Laois Scorers: C Simms 1-0, C Conlon (0-1f) & E Fitzpatrick 0-2 each, R Williams, LM Maher, E Lawlor, A Kehoe, C Burke & M Nerney (f) 0-1 each.
Cavan: E Walsh; R Doonan, A Cornyn, S Reilly; S Greene, L Fitzpatrick, S Lynch; D English, S O’Sullivan; C Smith, A Doonan, M Sheridan; N Byrd, C O’Reilly, A Sheridan.
Subs: S McGovern for C Smith (39), S McKenna for M Sheridan (40), G McLoughlin for R Doonan (49), A O’Reilly for English (55), G Smith for A Doonan (56)
Laois: C Dollard; A Potts, J McEvoy, M Kirwan; A Healy, M McEvoy, L Nerney; A O’Loughlin, A McEvoy; E Fitzpatrick, C Conlon, LM Maher; E Lawlor, R Williams, A Kehoe.
Subs: A Haberlin for Williams (ht), M Nerney for Maher (ht), C Simms for Kehoe (40), C Burke for Conlon (40)
Referee - G Corrigan (Down)