Allianz FL Division 2
Cavan 0-15 Clare 1-14
Clare produced a sleeves-rolled-up display to deservedly notch a first-ever NFL victory over hosts Cavan.
In an exciting top versus bottom Division 2 clash at Kingspan Breffni, the Munstermen tore up the script thanks, in the main, to a dervish-like workrate.
The adventurous Banner County crew also boasted some clinical finishing which hoisted them above the ordinary in extraordinary weather conditions.
Cavan were complicit in their own undoing too with sloppy defensive work, a midfield that was outwitted and an attack that was too inconsistent for the team’s good.
The visitors took advantage of powder puff tackling which resulted in a 12th-minute goal from a direct-running Joe McGann.
Using the wind to good advantage, Clare remained on the front foot and a classy point by Cian O’Dea made it a five-point game.
Amidst teeming hailstones, the game continued to be a nip and tuck affair but the game was Clare’s to lose at the interval as they led by 1-8 to 0-5.
Cavan were jet-propelled on the restart and four points in as many minutes — including a gem from defender Stephen Murray — served to reduce Clare’s lead to a miserly two points.
Clare refused to reach for the panic button though and points from the impressive Cian O’Dea and centre-back Pearse Lillis inside 80 seconds stopped the rot.
On an increasingly glue-like surface, the game became a survival of the fittest with the hosts doing most of the running but Clare digging their heels in.
With 15 minutes remaining, Clare looked increasingly comfortable in leading by 1-13 to 0-12 thanks to their excellent defending and admirable ball retention.
For every punch Cavan landed, the Banner responded in kind and another classy point from David Tubridy brought an upset closer.
Cavan laboured in their game of catch-up though Clare got off the hook in the 57th minute when McGann’s soccer-style effort flashed into the hosts’ side-netting.
Clare’s blanket tested their opponents’ patience and accuracy from long range but points from Oisín Pierson and Martin Reilly (63) offered renewed hope for the table-toppers.
Cavan dominated possession in the final 15 minutes but with 14 men behind the ball, the Banner stubbornly refused to be lowered.
The announcement of six additional minutes was followed moments later by Cavan’s Pierson floating over a free (73) which left just the minimum between the sides.
Clare had a sting in their tail though with the impressive Tubridy’s 75th minute effort sealing the deal for the underdogs.
Scorers for Cavan: O Pierson (0-7, 5 frees); Ciaran Brady (0-2); O Kiernan, G McKiernan, M Reilly, J Smith, B Magee, S Murray (0-1 each)
Scorers for Clare: E Cleary (0-5, 3 frees); D Tubridy (0-4, 1 free); J McGann (1-0); C Russell, C O’Dea (0-2 each); P Lillis (0-1)
CAVAN: R Galligan; C Madden, P Faulkner, K Brady; G Smith, Ciaran Brady O Kiernan; T Galligan, C Conroy; E Doughty, G McKiernan, M Reilly; O Pierson, J Smith, B Magee
Subs; S Murrayfor K Brady (inj, 30); R Connolly for J Smith (55); B Kelly for B Magee (62); Conor Brady for C Conroy (65).
CLARE: S Ryan; K Hartnett, C Brennan, G Kelly; S Collins, P Lillis (0-1, A Sweeney; C Russell (0-2), C O’Connor; C O’Dea (0-2), K Sexton, D Coughlan; E Cleary (0-5, 3f), D Tubridy (0-4, 1f), J McGann.
Subs; G O’Brien for D Coughlan (59); C O’ hAinfein (1-0) for A Sweeney (63); C Downes for J McGann (71).
Ref: J Henry (Mayo)