In a Division 2 cracker that always looked destined to go to the wire, gallant Tipp looked like making history for extended periods despite playing with just 14 men for the final 34 minutes of the game. But Madden had the final say.
“If you show up at training then we give you a chance and Conor had a super session on Thursday,” Cavan boss Marttie McGleenan declared.
“He’s been struggling with injury during the course of this campaign but he took his chance and executed a super score to win us the game.”
McGleenan’s crew trailed for much of the game and only led twice during a game that lasted 113 minutes in total.
There was never more than three points between the sides in a laboured, fractured first half with the major score coming in the 14th minute when Conor Sweeney fired home from the penalty spot after Jimmy Feehan was fouled.
Sweeney’s unerring finish catapulted the visitors into a 1-1 to 0-2 lead but they failed to push on despite having the majority of the possession in the second quarter.
Gearoid McKiernan, pitched in the middle third, was pivotal in edging Cavan into the box seat and the hosts nipped away at the heels of the leaders thanks, in part, to a brace of Caoimhín O’Reilly frees.
Tipp’s forwards looked more potent though and Liam McGrath notched the best point (37) of the first half to help ease his side into a 1-5 to 0-6 interval lead.
Cavan got a major leg-up in the 41st minute when Tipp midfielder Liam Casey received a straight red after striking out at Cavan defender Ciaran Brady as the visitors clung to a 1-6 to 0-8 lead.
“Liam’s loss was a big one and he said he didn’t do anything,” Tipp boss Liam Kearns stated afterwards.
“But we left a lot of scores behind us in the first and repeated the dose in the second half and if you miss your chances you are in danger of getting done and we were done. We can’t have complaints. We’ve been averaging 2-16 or 2-17 all year and should have had that today.”
Cavan laboured to make good their extra man but a Raymond Galligan free (53) made it all-square (0-11 to 1-8) for only the second time in the game.
Less than 90 seconds later though, Tipp found the jugular with Liam McGrath playing a neat one-two with Steven O’Brien, McGrath leaping and palming the ball home to the Cavan net.
While Tipp’s 2-8 to 0-11 lead looked far from secure, Cavan seemed determined to submit to the ’14-man syndrome’.
But under the spring sun and against superior numbers, the Premier men visibly tired and when Cian Mackey’s trusty right boot made it 0-15 to 2-9, all the momentum was with Cavan.
Conor Sweeney and Gearoid McKiernan swapped frees as the game entered added time and with the sides still level, Tipp looked like netting the draw to stay in the hunt for promotion and spoil Cavan’s party. But Cavan had a sting in their tail with Madden’s magical left-footed inswinger scraping inside the top of the right-hand post to send Blues fans into delirium.
G McKiernan (frees), C O’Reilly (2 frees) (0-3 each); D McVeety, B Magee (2 frees), C Mackey (free), C Bradley (0-2 each); R Galligan (free), C Brady, C Madden (0-1)
L McGrath (1-4, 2 frees); C Sweeney (1-2, pen, 1 free); L Casey (0-2); J Keane, L Boland (0-1)
R Galligan; J McLaughlin, P Faulkner, E Flanagan; M Reilly, C Brady, C Moynagh; G McKiernan, K Clarke; D McVeety, B Magee, O Kiernan; C O’Reilly, C Mackey, C Bradley.
A Cole for C O’Reilly (44); S Johnston for E Flanagan (56); S Murray for C Moynagh (58); N Clerkin for C Bradley (67); C Madden (0-1) for B Magee (69).
E Comerford; A Campbell, E Moloney, J Meagher; B Maher, R Kiely, J Feehan; S O’Brien, L Casey; J Keane, J Kennedy, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, L McGrath.
Subs; K Fahey for B Maher (28, inj); L Boland for K Fahey (45, inj); K O’Halloran for J Kennedy (65); G Hannigan for C Sweeney (73).
F Kelly (Longford ).