Cavan 1-16 Roscommon 3-17
It was a case of déjà vu at Kingspan Breffni Park as Roscommon won pulling up in their joust with 14-man Cavan.
In a second round qualifier that mirrored Cavan’s corresponding 10-point defeat at home in 2014, the Rossies won with all the ease suggested by the final scoreline.
Afterwards, Cavan boss Terry Hyland cut a baffled figure as he tried to work out why his number nine, Tomás Corr, was red-carded.
Hyland viewed video footage after the game which seemed to show Corr striking out at Roscommon’s late call-up Ultan Harney in an off-the-ball incident just 90 seconds before the short whistle sounded.
“The sending-off changed the game from our perspective ‘cause it left us with a man down for the entire second half,” Hyland lamented.
“There was a jersey pull on Tomás and then it looked as if the two lads got entangled but the officials didn’t deal with it until three or four minutes later.
“I can only think that they must have looked at TV footage (at half-time) to review it.” In the humid conditions and on the bone-dry surface, Cavan’s depleted resources were subsequently out-run in their fruitless bid to reel in their 1-7 to 1-10 half-time deficit.
Despite losing just once to the Breffni side in their last five meetings, Roscommon went into the game with their ears ringing from criticism meted out to them on the back of their provincial championship exit at the hands of Sligo last time out.
Like his charges, Rossies boss John Evans didn’t hold back on giving it a right ‘oul lash after the dust had settled at the famous Breffni bowl, calling on his team’s critics to afford the primrose and blue brigade “some patience and some breathing space.
“We came into this match without our full-back, without our centre-back, a midfielder, a marquee centre-forward and full-forward but Roscommon still showed we had the spine for the challenge; that the team has plenty of backbone and they showed it out on the field.” Evans and co can now look forward with confidence to an extended summer’s residence in the blue riband competition.
Cavan simply couldn’t cope with the westerners’ pace and power down the middle of the pitch nor their prowess at the business end of the field.
In perfect playing conditions, the hosts enjoyed the perfect start when Martin Reilly slipped the ball under advancing Roscommon keeper Darren O’Malley with just 34 seconds on the clock.
Late-comers suffered a double whammy less than two minutes later, when good work from late call-up Ultan Harney ended with Cathal Cregg executing a slide-rule shot into the Cavan net.
Cavan laboured to match their opponents’ dash and efficiency at the business end of the field with superb points from Enda Smith and Harney helping to steer the Connacht men into a 1-6 to 1-3 lead by the 23rd minute.
Cavan rose to the challenge and enjoyed a purple spell between the 29th and 32nd minutes when points from Gearoid McKiernan , Cian Mackey (free) and Martin Reilly levelled the tie (1-6 apiece) for the fourth time in the opening half only for Harney to split the posts (32) and give the visitors a lead they would not subsequently relinquish.
Cavan did chip away gallantly at their opponents’ cushion but the Rossies were always able to counter-punch with good effect.
Impressive Cavan sub. Barry Reilly helped pull it back to four points (1-12 to 2-13) with 49 minutes on the clock but that was as good as it got for the Ulstermen.
Roscommon had their hands firmly on the tiller in the dregs of the game with Enda Smith’s palmed goal (71) removing any vestiges of wriggle room for the disappointing blues.
Afterwards, manager Hyland said talks about his future would take place in the coming weeks.
The dismissal of Cavan midfielder Tomás Corr was a killer blow for the hosts in the energy-sapping heat. The Rossies used their extra resources to smother Cavan target man Argue and counter-attack intelligently.
Talk of the town
Corr’s dismissal took everyone by surprise as he seemed to have escaped punishment for allegedly landing a haymaker on Rossie stand-in Harney. The match officials proceeded to make a huge call during the half-time break.
Did that just happen?
On a perfect day for spectating, only 5,879 fans bothered to turn up. Live TVcoverage anyone?
John Evans got the very best out of his charges and his introduction (45) of the injury-hampered Diarmuid Murtagh was a case of perfect timing. Murtagh and co. played some champagne football up front.
Best on show
Goals win championship matches and Enda Smith deserved his day in the sun for his opportunism and finishing ability.
Man in black
The Meath official played his part in an entertaining spectacle but he will be forever remembered for the unusual dismissal of Corr.
Black card watch
None to report, although David Gough let Feargal Flanagan off the hook in the 24th minute with a yellow card after the Cavan man dragged Cathal Cregg to the ground.
Roscommon go into the draw for Round 3 with their confidence restored and a spring in their step. Cavan are left to lick their wounds over the coming months.
Scorers for Cavan:
M Reilly (1-3), C Mackey (2 frees), B Reilly (2 frees) 0-3 each; N Murray (0-2); G McKiernan, M Argue, N McDermott, C Brady, M Dunne (0-1 each)
Subs for Cavan;
T Hayes for N McDermott (inj, 19); C Moynagh for F Flanagan (half-time); B Reilly for K Brady (49); C Brady for D O’Reilly (49); M Dunne for R Flanagan (58); P Smith for M Argue (69).
Scorers for Roscommon:
E Smith (2-1); C Cregg (1-1); U Harney, D Murtagh, D Shine (2 frees), C Murtagh (1 free) (0-3 each); C Daly (0-2); D Smith (0-1 free)
Subs for Roscommon:
D Murtagh for K Higgins (45); R Stack for I Kilbride (50); D Smith for C Murtagh (55); B Murtagh for D Shine (61); T Featherston for D Murray (64); C Connolly for C Cregg (65).
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