The Banner men led by five points at half-time and two minutes into the second period were seven ahead. Yet a Cavan point from wing-back Oisin Kiernan with three minutes of normal time remaining nosed his side in front. Then Clare kicked two, through Eoin Cleary and Keelan Sexton, to regain the lead, forcing Magee to be accurate with a free kick in the dying moments.
A new-look Cavan outfit featured ten debutants and boss Mattie McGleenan was full of praise for those newcomers. “We are delighted with these young boys coming into the squad and they bring a real energy to the team this year,” he said.
Lessons still to learn, however.
“The one thing that we’ve been trying to coach is what Clare taught us today, which is – kick the ball dead. They got into great positions and drilled the ball over the bar. I’m not sure statistically but we must have kicked three or four into the goalkeeper’s hands. Kicking into the goalie’s hands is a counter-attacking situation and Clare were outstanding on the ball and how they moved. They were all mistakes that cost us the game today.”
Cavan couldn’t have asked for a better start and recorded a goal within 50 seconds. They worked the ball out of defence in a movement that involved Conor Madden and team-captain Dara McVeety. Caoimhin O’Reilly applied the finish.
Clare made a swift response and were level by the sixth minute with points from Conor Finucane, Cleary and Sexton.
Eimhin Courtney then intercepted a hand-pass from Cavan keeper Raymond Galligan and shot to the net from close range, putting his side 1-3 to 1-1 in front. They kicked on from there, aided by a strong breeze and led by 1-7 to 1-2 at the break.
The home side increased the advantage early in the second half with points by Gary Brennan and Gearoid O’Brien. But Cavan refused to yield and in a two-minute period snatched a goal and two points to trail by just one, 1-10 to 2-6. McVeety fisted the all-important goal.
In injury time Clare looked to have earned the points but a silly foul by substitute Kieran Malone threw the Breffni boys a lifeline and Magee took it with aplomb.
Clare manager Colm Collins reflected: “ We were making the kind of mistakes I’m talking about all the time.
We let Cavan straight back into the game when we had them dead and buried. When you are playing Division 2 football and aspiring to play better, you can’t get away with those kind of things.”
E Cleary (0-4) 2 f’s, E Courtney (1-0), G O’Brien (0-2), C Finnucane (0-2), K Sexton (0-2),G Brennan (f), C O’Connor (0-1) each.
C O’Reilly (1-1) 0-1 f, D McVeety (1-1), C Mackey (0-2), B McGee (0-2), C Brady (0-1), A Cole (0-1), O Kiernan (0-1).
K Roche, C O’Dea, C Brennan, G Kelly, J Malone, C Russell, P Lillis, G Brennan (Capt), C O’Connor, A Sweeney, E Cleary, G O’Brien, E Courtney, K Sexton, C Finnucane.
Subs, D Bohannon for G Brennan (59) (B/C), K Malone for Sweeney (60), S O’Donoghue for Courtney (65).
R Galligan, D Monahan, P Faulkner, D Phillips, D Kennedy, C Brady, O Kiernan, K Clarke, J Wharton, E Flanagan, D McVeety (Capt), D Brady, C O’Reilly, B Magee, C Madden.
Subs, C Moyna for Wharton (23), C Mackey for Kennedy (h/t), N McKiernan for Madden (h/t), A Cole for D Brady (41), R Connolly for O’Reilly (64), C Brady for McKiernan (69).
A Nolan (Wicklow)