Cavan boss Mickey Graham has lashed out at a series of decisions he claims have gone against his team in the opening rounds of the Allianz Football League.
On Saturday night in Castlebar, a game they lost to Mayo, the only goal of the game was a hugely controversial one.
Mayo corner-forward Evan Regan jumped with Cavan goalkeeper Raymond Galligan under a high ball. It appeared that Galligan was fouled by the attacker, but referee Anthony Nolan allowed the goal to stand, which meant the hosts led 1-7 to 0-7 at the break. Cavan never got within three points thereafter and remain without a win after three games.
Graham blasted: “I felt Raymond had the ball in his hands at the time. They (officials) said that he (Regan) got to the ball first. From where I was standing, it looked like Raymond was shoved into the back of the net. A couple of decisions in the last couple of games haven’t gone our way. In the various patches of the last three games, we don’t seem to be getting the calls that the big teams are getting.
“We will not use that as an excuse... we just gave away too much ball, that’s the basics of Gaelic football. We had lots of possession, we had as much if not more than they had. We coughed it up too easily. As we learned from the previous two games you get punished at this level for doing that.”
Mayo’s victory saw them record three wins from three for the first time since the 2006 league campaign. In his second coming as Mayo manager, James Horan has handed full debuts to seven players in three games and started 24 this spring. They appear to be getting the balance right between blooding players and getting points on the board.
“We’re trying to look at everyone we possibly can and keep winning games and so far, so good,” said Horan.
Cavan led 0-4 to 0-1 after 10 minutes, but with Andy Moran leading the line in attack and Ger Cafferkey excelling at full-back, Mayo drew level shortly afterwards and Regan’s goal left them in a good position at the break.
While Cavan came at them in the third quarter, Mayo always looked comfortable and two points in a minute from Donie Vaughan and Brian Reape left them five clear with 10 minutes to go. There would be no Cavan comeback from there.
Indeed, Mayo’s ability to comfortably see out their last two games is something which pleased Horan greatly. Successive clean sheets against Tyrone and Cavan was another reason to be satisfied.
He explained: “We looked very solid there at the end. With all the mistakes we were making up front, we still looked very solid, which is great. We’re a progressive team that’s trying to attack and at the same time trying to make sure we’re solid [at the back].”
But when asked about a league final, Horan refused to look past their next game.
That the next game is away to Dublin on Saturday week contextualises things, because there is little doubt tougher tests lie ahead.
Roscommon and Cavan were shortlisted as favourites for the drop from the off, while Tyrone were a long way off the form which saw them reach last year’s All-Ireland final.
Scores for Mayo: E Regan (1-2, 2fs), J Doherty (0-3, fs), A Moran (0-2, 1 mark), L Keegan, D O’Connor, F McDonagh, A O’Shea (mark), B Reape, D Vaughan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cavan: J Brady (0-3, 3fs), C Rehill, D McVeety (0-2 each), R Galligan (f), M Reilly (f), N Murray and C Moynagh (0-1 each).
MAYO: D Clarke; S Coen, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, M Plunkett, P Durcan; D O’Connor, M Ruane; F McDonagh, A O’Shea, J Doherty; E Regan, A Moran, C Moran.
Subs: B Reape for C Moran (43), D Vaughan for Ruane (48), K McLoughlin for McDonagh (58),J McCormack for Coen (66), C Treacy for A Moran (68).
CAVAN: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, K Clarke; C Rehill, D McVeety, C Brady; P Graham, T Galligan; M Reilly, J Brady, N Murray; S Murray, C Madden, C Mackey.
Subs: C Moynagh for T Galligan (h/t), P Smith for N Murray (44), N Clerkin for Mackey (61), N McKiernan for Madden (41), O Pierson for J Brady (67).
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).