The Oak Leafers have been scoring for fun this year but it was their men at the back who stole the show at Kingspan/Breffni Park on Saturday night to cement their place at the summit of Division Two.
“I thought all our men at the back were superb but especially those in the full-back line,”
Derry boss Damien Barton beamed. “Cavan threw everything they could at us in the last 10 minutes but we stood firm, particularly towards the end when we made five tremendous blocks. The way we defended epitomises the spirit in this Derry team.”
Cavan’s infamous blanket stood the test for the most part but blues’ boss Terry Hyland admitted that failings up front cost his side dearly.
The hosts were authors of their own downfall though to a large degree.
They rallied to lead by the odd point in seven after 22 minutes but eight first half wides — double Derry’s tally — would come back to haunt them.
“We had too many wides in the first half in particular and there was goal chances too that we didn’t take so that’s something we will have to work on in the next three weeks,” Hyland lamented.
“In fairness to the lads up front, I thought we had a couple of decent shouts for penalties late on that went unanswered.
“It was the same the last time out against Tyrone.”
Derry had their troubles up front as well and Ryan Bell’s tame penalty in the 26th minute was easily saved by Cavan ‘keeper Raymond Galligan.
Wind-aided Derry had a whirlwind start to the second half with Cailean O’Boyle’s goal after just 90 seconds overturning Cavan’s 0-6 to 0-5 interval lead.
Cavan failed to panic and two wonder points from Gearoid McKiernan steadied the hosts’ ship.
Derry were rocked back on their heels in the 55th minute when Cavan sub. Michael Argue whipped home a soccer-like goal to make it 1-8 apiece.
Mark Lynch fired over three great frees to give Derry a lead they refused to concede.
Cavan forced the pace in the dregs of the game but a flurry of attacks failed to unhinge a top class Derry defensive rearguard.
R Galligan; P Faulkner, K Clarke, K Brady; C Brady, C Moynagh, F Flanagan; D Givney (0-1), G McKiernan (0-3, 1f); M Reilly (0-1, 1f), T Corr (0-1), D McVeety (0-1); C Mackey (0-1), E Keating (0-1, 1f), P O’Connor (0-1).
M Argue (1-0) for K Brady (47); J Hayes for D McVeety (50); S Johnston (0-1, 1f) for P O’Connor (53); T Hayes for E Keating (60); C Conroy for G McKiernan B.C (64); E Henry for S Johnston B.C (74).
E McNicholl; K McKaigue, C McKaigue, C Mullan; G McKinless, M Craig (0-1), D Heavron (0-1); E Bradley (0-1), M Lynch (0-3, 3f); B Heron (0-1), C McFaul (0-2), C Bradley; C O’Boyle (1-0), R Bell, J Kielt (0-2, 1f).
E McGuckin for C O’Boyle (46); N Loughlin for R Bell (51); S Heavron (0-1)for B Heron (56); C McAtamney for E Bradley (68); D McKinless for C Bradley (72); N Forester for G McKinless (73).
P Neilan (Roscommon).