Roscommon sealed the Division Two title of the Allianz Football League after a cracking contest at Kingspan Breffni Park.
It was a black day for the hosts though with results elsewhere conspiring to send Mickey Graham’s men hurtling down through the relegation trap door.
With Rossies boss Anthony Cunningham side-lined due to Covid 19 restrictions, it was left to stand-in manager Ian Daly to laud Donie Smith’s personal performance and his team’s overall showing: “Donie had a tremendous game, worked hard and scored some great points but he got a lot of help from his team-mates which all scoring forwards need.
“We had a lot of fellas vying for championship places and it showed in the hunger and determination that the team brought to the table.”
The lights were largely stuck on green for the visitors for three quarters of the match and Ciaran Murtagh’s free (36) made it double scores (0-10 to 0-5) for the fourth time at that juncture.
Cavan hung in there but the wind-aided Rossies headed for home when Enda Smith palmed home a goal (41) after latching onto Cian McKeon’s flighted pass.
Desperate to avoid the drop, Cavan upped the ante and notched three unanswered points – including a gem (58) from Oisín Kiernan - to put the Rossies on the ropes for the first time in the match.
On cue, Donie Smith popped up to make it 1-11 to 0-10 on the hour mark, giving the visitors just enough of a cushion to see out the game.
“We started strongly and the lads showed a lot of resilience to keep their noses in front at the end so to win the league and gain promotion is all that we could have asked for coming up the road,” Daly declared.
The westerners showed eight changes from their last round victory over Armagh but Cavan simply weren’t at the races on home turf in the opening 45 minutes.
The Rossies were never headed as they annexed the Division Two crown with a rearguard action after dominating the first half.
Cavan laboured badly in the first half and while Cormac O’Reilly levelled matters (0-3 apiece) in the 20th minute, that was the closest they came to leading their rivals.
The lights remained largely stuck on green for the visitors and Ciaran Murtagh’s free (36) made it double scores (0-10 to 0-5) for the fourth time at that juncture.
Cavan hung in there but the wind-aided Rossies headed for home on the restart and hit the jackpot when Enda Smith palmed home a goal (41) after latching onto Cian McKeon’s flighted pass.
Cavan made a fight of it in the run-in notching three unanswered points – including a gem (58) from Oisín Kiernan - to put the Rossies on the ropes for the first time in the match.
But on cue, Donie Smith popped up to make it 1-11 to 0-10 on the hour mark and that was all the cushion his side needed to seal the deal.
: R Galligan (’45); J McLoughlin, K Brady, K Clarke; G Smith, C Conroy (0-1), C Brady (0-2); G McKiernan (0-1), P Faulkner; O Kiernan (0-1), M Reilly (0-1), J Smith (0-1); N Murray, C Madden, C O’Reilly (0-2).
: O Pierson (0-2, 2f) for N Murray (29); L Fortune (0-1) for K Brady (h-t); S Smith for C Conroy (37); T Galligan for C Madden (52); O Brady for C O’Reilly (60).
: C Lavin; F Lennon, S Mullooly, D Neary; P Scott, C Cregg (0-1), C Devaney; E Smith (1-0), T O’Rourke; N Kilroy, C McKeon, F Cregg(0-1); D Smith (0-7, 3f, 45), D Murtagh (0-1), C Murtagh (0-2, 1f).
: H Darcy for F Cregg (45); U Harney for C McKeon (52); H Walsh for C Devaney (57); A Glennon for D Murtagh (61); J Casey for C Creggs (68).
: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)