Allianz FL D2: Roscommon crowned champions and relegate Cavan
Allianz Football League Division 2
ROSCOMMON 1-12 CAVAN 0-13
By Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni
Roscommon are up and Cavan are down after a dramatic afternoon at Kingspan Breffni.
The sides have met 11 times since 2012, with Cavan winning just twice in that sequence, and the Connacht men again proved the masters here as, despite missing eight of their starting team and 13 in total of their panel due to a Covid scare, they ran out convincing winners against the misfiring hosts.
While Cavan kicked 16 wides, they never lead and were chasing the game for most of the contest as they struggled to break down a mean and disciplined Rossies defence who kept a clean sheet for the sixth game in succession.
By the time the first water break arrived, the sides were deadlocked at 0-3 apiece.
The Rossies opened the scoring five minutes in through a sweetly-struck 45 from Donie Smith, which was the first of his five first-half points.
Diarmuid Murtagh and Smith (free) were also on the mark in this quarter, with Cavan, despite playing with a strong wind, struggling to break the visitors down and reduced to long-range pot shots.
They converted three points from over 40 metres via Martin Reilly, Chris Conroy and Cormac O’Reilly but the second quarter was dominated by the Connacht men, who built up a useful 0-7 to 0-4 half-time lead.
After a great run from Cian McKeon, Fintan Cregg drove over from close range and two well-taken frees from the in-form Smith made it 0-6 to 0-3 on 26 minutes.
Rookie Cormac O’Reilly, son of Breffni great Damien, kicked a wonderful point from the right wing but a fisted point from Donie Smith, who was also denied a goal by a terrific Ray Galligan save, saw Roscommon go in at half-time three to the good.
They extended that lead to four on the restart with a quick point from Ciarain Murtagh and although Cavan hit back through Gearoid McKiernan, Murtagh and Cathal Cregg registered to make it double scores, 0-10 to 0-5.
Sub Oisin Pierson knocked over a free and then Cavan strung together their best move of the match, with Luke Fortune finishing it with a point to leave three between them.
But Roscommon’s response was immediate as they exploited a mix-up at midfield by Cavan and streamed forward, with Enda Smith arriving late to palm to the net.
With sub Thomas Galligan making a difference on kick-outs, Cavan upped their game and pulled back three good points, two from Ciaran Brady and one for Oisin Kiernan.
But Roscommon always seemed to be able to find space at the other end and the excellent Donie Smith curled in a beautiful score to get them going again.
Ray Galligan and Pierson added frees for Cavan but Smith curled in another high-quality score. Cavan pressed hard but Roscommon didn’t look like wobbling, with one half-decent goal chance falling to sub Stephen Smith but producing nothing.
All Cavan could muster was a James Smith point, with a succession of poor shots and weak execution of skills costing them dearly in the closing stages.
Scorers for Cavan: Ciaran Brady 0-2, Cormac O'Reilly 0-2, Oisin Pierson 0-2 (2f), Raymond Galligan 0-1 (1f), Chris Conroy 0-1, Gearoid McKiernan 0-1, Oisin Kiernan 0-1, Martin Reilly 0-1, James Smith 0-1, Luke Fortune 0-1
Scorers for Roscommon: Donie Smith 0-7 (4f, 45), Enda Smith 1-0, Ciarain Murtagh 0-2 (1f), Diarmuid Murtagh 0-1, Cathal Cregg 0-1, Finbar Cregg 0-1
CAVAN: Raymond Galligan, Jason McLoughlin, Killian Brady, Killian Clarke, Gerard Smith, Chris Conroy, Ciaran Brady, Gearoid McKiernan, Padraig Faulkner, Oisin Kiernan, Martin Reilly, Cormac O’Reilly, James Smith, Conor Madden, Niall Murray. Subs: Oisin Pierson for Murray (29 mins), Luke Fortune for K Brady (ht), Stephen Smith for Conroy (42), Thomas Galligan for Madden (47), Oisin Brady for C O’Reilly (60)
ROSCOMMON: Colm Lavin, Fergal Lennon, Sean Mullooly, David Neary, Padraig Scott, Cathal Cregg, Conor Devaney, Enda Smith, Tadhg O’Rourke, Niall Kilroy, Cian McKeon, Finbar Cregg, Donie Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh, Ciarain Murtagh. Subs: Hubert Darcy for F Cregg (45 mins), Ultan Harney for McKeon (47), Henry Walsh for Devaney (47), Andrew Glennon for D Murtagh (60), Jack Casey for C Cregg (68)