Cooney’s Faith restored as Connor eases pressure

Under pressure Offaly boss Gerry Cooney saw his 14-men secure a gritty win at Kingspan Breffni Park and drag Cavan into a relegation battle.

Cooney said: “We’re not going to get carried away but the lads answered a lot of the questions laid down about their character. I never doubted them. They trained really hard during the past week and that was just the reaction I wanted from the defeat to Wexford. I’m sure the players will take great heart from this and keep the momentum going.”

Once again Cavan’s profligacy cost them dearly with their 13 wides contrasting sharply with the visitors’ economy of effort.

In a rather powder-puff opening half, Offaly led by the odd point in seven after 14 minutes with all four of their scores from open play.

For all that, Offaly struggled with Cavan’s turn of pace up front with Niall Smith and Martin Dunne especially elusive.

The hosts impressed in the last 15 minutes, out-scoring their rivals by five points to one with Smith bagging a brace in that period.

Offaly’s frustrating season manifested itself in their propensity to commit silly fouls and four of their side were booked in the opening half. Cavan’s bid to consolidate their 0-9 to 0-5 interval lead was helped by the dismissal of Shane Sullivan after an off-the-ball incident in the 41st minute. Complacent Cavan failed to hammer home their advantage though and a penalty conversion at the second attempt by Kevin Casey propelled the visitors into the lead (1-9 to 0-10) for the first time in the 53rd minute.

Offaly defended in numbers and raided dangerously on the counter attack. Cavan poured forward in the closing stages but, instead, it was the visitors who added to their tally with a glorious 61st minute point from star man Brian Connor.

CAVAN: K Fannin; D Barkey, D Reilly, R Flanagan; B Watters, C Galligan, P O’Reilly; D Givney, G McKiernan (0-2); N Smith (0-2), M McKeever, K Meehan; B Fitzpatrick (0-1), N McDermott (0-2), M Dunne (0-3, one free).

Subs: S McCormack for G McKiernan (inj, 28); N Murray (0-1) for K Meehan (51); C McClarey for B Fitzpatrick (59); D McKiernan for N Smith (66).

OFFALY: A Mulhall; J Gallagher, S Sullivan, B Darby; J Keane, J Moloney (0-2), P Boland; B Connor (0-3), N Smith; N Dunne (0-2), D Currams, A McNamee; W Mulhall, B Hanamy, K Casey (1-1, 1-0 pen).

Subs: N McNamee (0-2) for W Mulhall (29).

Referee: S Carroll (Westmeath).

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