Mickey Graham is much too gregarious a figure to embark upon a ‘youse all writ us off’ speech, but he was still grateful to the reporter who asked him how his mood has changed with this, their third win in a row, after their opening round 12-point loss to Armagh that had many seeing his Cavan side as relegation candidates.
Blending his metaphors seamlessly, he said, “The obituaries were written already after the Armagh game and the headstone was out on our graves. I don’t think that was fair. It was a bad night at the office for us but it opened our eyes and we knew we had a good bit of work to do to get back onto the horse.”
They came the short distance to Fermanagh to a side that had only been beaten there once in the previous nine games. A sixth-minute goal from Fermanagh’s Ultan Kelm was a sign of things to come for a side that carved out four goal chances in the first half. Ryan McMenamin has Fermanagh playing a more expansive game than they had under Rory Gallagher and they put the Cavan backline under a lot of pressure. What was miles off however was their radar. They hit 12 wides and dropped two short, whereas Cavan limited themselves to three wides.
McMenamin was stung by the decision of referee Sean Hurson, a fellow native of Tyrone, not to award a penalty when Ciaran Corrigan was pulled down by Padraig Faulkner when making a run.
“I thought the ref was a bit harsh on us all night, maybe a Tyrone factor or whatever, but whenever the umpire can see a penalty and a black card… when you’re a smaller county, you don’t get those calls. If it had been Tyrone or Dublin playing it would’ve been a penalty,” he said.
Where they fell down, was their inability to deal with the good old-fashioned high ball into the square. It cost them on 44 minutes when the excellent Oisin Kiernan delivered a dangerous high ball in and full back Padraig Faulkner made it up the pitch to tap it down into the net.
Their second arrived on the hour mark, Ryan Connolly hoisting it in this time and when Erne goalkeeper James McGrath couldn't secure it, Thomas Galligan was on hand to snap it up and blast home from almost on the line.
Scorers for Fermanagh: U Kelm (1-0), C Corrigan (0-3), C Jones, E McManus (0-2f each), R Jones (0-2), Shane McGullion, A Breen (0-1 each).
Scorers for Cavan: G McKiernan (0-5, 0-1 mark), T Galligan (1-1), P Faulkner (1-0), O Kiernan (0-2), O Pierson (0-2, 1f), C Conroy (0-1 mark).
FERMANAGH: J McGrath; J Cassidy, C Cullen, K McDonnell; D McCusker, R O'Callaghan, Shane McGullion; E Donnelly, R Jones; A Breen, U Kelm, C Corrigan; Stephen McGullion, C Jones, J McMahon.
Subs: D McGurn for Stephen McGullion (56), D Teague for McCusker (57), E McManus for C Jones (64), E Sheils for McDonnell (66).
CAVAN: R Galligan; G Smith, P Faulkner, K Brady; M Reilly, C Brady, O Kiernan; T Galligan, C Conroy; E Doughty, G McKiernan, C Madden; O Pierson, J Smith, B Magee.
Subs: S Murray for Doughty (42), L Fortune for Magee (50), R Connolly for O Pierson (56), B Kelly for Madden (62), L Buchanan for J Smith (74).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).