All-Ireland SFC Qualifier: McKiernan inspires Cavan
All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 1B
*CAVAN 1-17 *OFFALY 0-16
By Kevin Egan at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park
Cavan produced a ten minute burst of life after half time at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park this evening, the key score a goal from Gearóid McKiernan, and in doing so put to bed a qualifier tie against Offaly that was otherwise played at a pedestrian pace with little in the way of intensity or pace.
Both sides were clearly feeling the effects of local derby defeats in their respective provincial championships in the early stages, and, while Cavan enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, some errant shooting with the aid of the breeze meant that they left Offaly in touch for long spells.
At 0-11 to 0-9 in front at the break, the Ulster side could have been vulnerable to a second half surge from an Offaly side that was clearly capable of scoring, but instead Cavan picked up the pace after half time and put eight points between the sides, an advantage that was never going to be relinquished.
McKiernan’s contribution to Cavan’s victory wasn’t limited to his goal either. The Swanlinbar man came up trumps with four key points from play in the first half, showing his forward line the way on a day when they were otherwise woefully bereft of leadership.
Offaly were marginally disadvantaged by having had just eight days of a break since crashing out of the Leinster championship to Westmeath but they looked the sharper side in the early stages, with Nigel Dunne particularly lively as he pulled the strings from full forward.
Three points came from the boot of the Shamrocks player and while Cavan were back on level terms by the 16th minute, they struggled to push on and went point for point with Offaly until just before half time, when scores from Niall McDermott and Ciarán Brady gave them an interval lead.
In a game that needed life, Gerard Smith provided a moment of magic to set the tone for Cavan at the start of the second half and really push his team to move up a gear. He showed incredible athleticism and power to drive forward from wing back and kick a towering point into the wind, and by the fourth minute of the half McDermott and Liam Buchanan had added points.
Another pacey run, this time from Dara McVeety, helped to set up McKiernan for the game’s only goal in the 42nd minute and while Cavan soon lapsed back into the pedestrian pace that was a feature of the first half, they had done enough to keep Offaly at arm’s length.
Brian Darby, Rúairí Allen and substitute Niall McNamee all kicked nice points for Offaly to peg back the gap while Cavan continued to miss chances, but Offaly never looked like scoring a goal, and so their championship ended without a victory, while Cavan will be part of tomorrow mornings 2B qualifier draw.
*Cavan Scorers: *G McKiernan 1-4, N McDermott 0-4 (0-2f), S Johnston (0-2f), R Connolly (0-2f) & L Buchanan 0-2 each, C Moynagh, G Smith & C Brady 0-1 each.
*Offaly Scorers: *N Dunne 0-5 (0-2f), B Allen & G Guilfoyle 0-2 each, S Doyle, R McNamee, M Brazil, B Darby, P Cunningham, R Allen & N McNamee 0-1 each.
CAVAN: R Galligan; P Faulkner, J McEnroe, J McLoughlin; G Smith, C Moynagh, C Brady; L Buchanan, M Reilly; C Mackey, G McKiernan, D McVeety; N Clerkin, S Johnston, N McDermott. Subs: R Connolly for Johnston (22), N Murray for Moynagh (34), K Clarke for Smith (42), T Corr for Buchanan (55), T Galligan for Corr (56 - bc), J Dillon for McDermott (69)
OFFALY: A Mulhall; B Darby, E Rigney, S Pender; D Hanlon, P Cunningham, C Donohoe; G Guilfoyle, C McNamee; S Doyle, R McNamee, M Brazil; R Allen, N Dunne, B Allen. Subs: J Lalor for Pender (37), D Brady for Rigney (46), J O’Connor for Doyle (48), J Moloney for Allen (51), N McNamee for C McNamee (55), A Sullivan for R McNamee (63)
Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)