Dublin won pulling up in their Division 1 NFL tie at Kingspan Breffni as Cavan fell way short of completing a hoped-for ‘mission impossible’.
Dublin may have travelled with the words dead and rubber ringing in their ears but they showed a spring in their step that Cavan failed badly to match.
Jim Gavin’s men made the victory look very easy but in-form midfielder Michael Darragh Macauley claimed the Dubs are going at “full tilt” right now.
Macauley rubbished the claim earlier this week by Cavan boss Mickey Graham that the Dubs have been in pre-season mode in the League’s top-flight this season.
“I never bought into that notion... none of us can be in pre-season mode with the sort of squad we have,” the Ballyboden ace declared. “We’re going at full tilt. We just weren’t good enough to do better in this year’s league but when you’ve the likes of Bernard (Brogan) and some of the other lads coming back into the picture, you can’t afford to be strolling through any game.”
In front of 7,311 fans, Cavan played second-fiddle against a Dublin side which moved up through the gears with ease.
Jim Gavin’s men took control and from the time the impressive Dean Rock fired over to give the Dubs a lead (0-4 to 0-3), they never looked like losing.
Dublin strolled into a double scores (0-8 to 0-4) lead by the 29th minute and were eyeing up a goal that would have buried any hope Cavan had of upsetting the odds.
The subdued hosts badly needed a tonic at that juncture and, on cue, former captain Gearóid McKiernan again dropped short an attempt for a point — his fourth such gaffe of the first-half.
But just as the sighs of the Cavan fans filled the stand, Martin Reilly outjumped Dublin ‘keeper Comerford to palm the ball to the net to cut the visitors’ lead to 0-8 to 1-4 with 31 minutes on the clock.
Cavan led just once in the opening half with McKiernan’s trademark point on the run in the 15th minute, giving the Breffni men the lead by the odd point in five.
In a powder-puff first-half, the only incident of note — save Reilly’s goal — in the opening half was when all the players exchanged handbags in the 23rd minute.
When the dust settled, James McCarthy and Niall Scully were yellow-carded along with Cavan’s Conor Rehill and Killian Clarke.
It was all too easy though for the Dubs, as Cavan simply failed to lay a glove on them, with Paul Mannion’s goal (43) giving the red-hot match favourites a lead (1-9 to 1-6) they easily consolidated.
There were blips in the Dublin dominance in the run-in but those were few and far between, Killian Clarke’s 57th minute effort, when he finished off a storming 30-metre run, a case in point.
Cavan boss Mickey Graham lamented afterwards: “We coughed up some scores far too easily, including the goal, and I thought a couple of our wides in the first-half were actually points. But Dublin are the benchmark and we just have to raise our game.”
Scorers for Cavan: M Reilly (1-3, 0-1 f), G McKiernan (0-3, 0-2 f), D McVeety (0-1 f), K Clarke, P Graham, C Madden (0-1 each).
Scorers for Dublin: D Rock (0-9, 0-5 f), P Mannion (1-3, 0-1 f), C Kilkenny (0-1 f), K McManamon, S Bugler, C Basquel (0-1 each).
CAVAN: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, C Moynagh; G Smith, C Brady, C Rehill; D McVeety, K Clarke; P Graham, G McKiernan, C Conroy; M Reilly, J Galligan, C Madden.
Subs: B Fortune for J McLoughlin (45); Oisin Kiernan for G Smith (49); J Brady for C Madden (48); N Murray for P Graham (52).
DUBLIN: E Comerford; D Daly, D Byrne, C O’Connor; B Howard, C O’Sullivan, J McCarthy; M D Macauley, D Gavin; P Flynn, D Rock, N Scully; C Kilkenny, C O’Callaghan, P Mannion.
Subs: S Bugler for N Scully (46); K McManamon for P Flynn (43); S Bugler for N Scully (46); P McMahon for C O’Connor (56); C Basquel for P Mannion (62); B Brogan for M D McCauley (65).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).