Dublin spoil Cavan’s return to the top flight

Cavan 0-11Dublin 0-18

By Brendan O'Brien, Kingspan Breffni Park

Cavan’s return to the top tier of league football for the first time in 14 years began with a predictable dose of realism this afternoon with Dublin recording the most straightforward of wins in front of 16,331 people at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Such were the numbers turning up - and the equally predictable tailback emanating from the capital - that the game had to be put back 15 minutes but it only delayed an outcome that at least allowed the hosts to retain their honour.

A seven-point loss could have been considerably worse had the visitors not squandered so many scoring opportunities, especially in the second-half, but this was in many ways a familiar performance from a Jim Gavin side that never had to engage top gear.

Gavin made three changes to the side named midweek with the most notable call-up being that of Jack McCaffrey who was making his first appearance in a Dublin shirt since the 2015 All-Ireland final and he looked as though he had never been away.

Dublin struggled to break down the hosts at first.

Cavan defended deep with 13 men behind the ball and sought to break at speed. It worked for the first quarter, which passed with the sides on even terms at four points apiece, but the visitors adapted from thereon.

Possession and territory began to mount in Dublin's favour as Cavan faded and five points on the trot left the reigning league, All-Ireland - and O'Byrne Cup - champions with a four-point advantage which still stood at three by the time the half came to a close.

Cavan made changes early and then often after that but none of them went any way to turn the tide with Dublin putting the game to bed in the period immediately after the break with four of the next five points. Everything else was academic.

Gerard Smith from Cavan in action against Dublin's Eric Lowndes today. Picture: Sportsfile

Scorers for Cavan: S Johnston (0-4, 1f); N McDermott (0-2f); G Smith (0-2); J McCutcheon and C Madden (both 0-1); N Clerkin (0-1f).

Scorers for Dublin: D Rock (0-7, 6f); N Scully and J McCarthy (0-2); J McCaffrey, B Fenton, MD Macauley, C Kilkenny, K McManamon and J Whelan (all 0-1); C Costello (0-1f).

Cavan: J Farrelly; K Brady, R Dunne, F Reilly; C Brady, C Moynagh, P Faulkner; K Clarke, J McCutcheon; D McVeety, G Smith, M Reilly; N Clerkin, N McDermott, S Johnston. Subs: S Murray for McCutcheon and P O'Connor for McDermott (both HT); G McKiernan for Dunne (42); C Madden for Moynagh (47); N McKiernan for Clerkin (61); S O’Rourke for Madden (66).

Dublin: S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, P McMahon, E Lowndes; J McCarthy, J Small, J McCaffrey; B Fenton, MD Macauley; J Whelan, N Scully, C Kilkenny; P Mannion, D Rock, K McManamon. Subs: C Costello for McManamon (42); C Basquel for Whelan (46); E O’Gara for Mannion (57); D Byrne for Fitzsimons (59); C Reddin for Macauley (62); C McHugh for Rock (70).

Referee: P O'Sullivan (Kerry).

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