Allianz FL D3 Final: Cavan battle to victory over Fermanagh
Allianz National Football League Division 3 final
CAVAN 0-16 FERMANAGH 1-7
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Less than a week after losing to Fermanagh, Cavan exacted revenge at Croke Park with a strong second-half performance helping to secure the Allianz NFL Division 3 title for Mickey Graham's side.
Trailing at half-time, Cavan followed a similar script to Division 4 final winners Sligo by turning on the afterburners in the third quarter to move into a winning position.
Cavan struck six of the seven points in that period to take the lead and they made sure not to relinquish it with a professional display from there on, adding another five points to seal it.
They didn't score any goals but it wasn't for a lack of effort with Fermanagh goalkeeper Sean McNally pulling off a number of excellent saves in that second-half.
Cavan goalkeeper Raymond Galligan impressed too, finishing as the game's top scorer with four points, all from placed balls.
It's back to back league titles for Cavan following last year's Division 4 success and they are set up nicely to attack the Ulster SFC with an April 22 tie against Armagh or Antrim on the horizon.
As for Fermanagh, they will play provincial title holders Derry in Enniskillen on April 15.
Breffni boss Mickey Graham restored key quartet Dara McVeety, Gerard Smith, Paddy Lynch and Ryan O'Neill to his lineup - adding vital punch and experience.
All four were left out of the team against Fermanagh last weekend, suggesting Graham viewed this encounter as the crucial one to win with silverware on the line.
Lynch came into the contest with 3-20 already scored and added another three points to that tally in the opening half.
O'Neill got his name on the scoresheet too after a probing run in along the left endline and fisted finish at the Hill 16 End.
Lynch showed moments of excellence, like chipping the ball up on the run with his right foot before kicking it over the bar wth his left foot for his third score.
But that sort of magic was largely missing in the first-half with Fermanagh edging a low scoring encounter 1-3 to 0-5 at the break.
That O'Neill score was Cavan's first from open play and didn't come until the 27th minute.
As for Fermanagh, they only scored two points in the same period but suddenly burst into life when McGurn found the net in the 28th minute.
Ryan Lyons had been guilty of wasting a couple of earlier chances, despite also scoring their opening two points.
But there was nothing wasteful about Fermanagh's play when they pounced for that McGurn goal.
Luke Flanagan did brilliantly out on the right wing with a clever ball across the Cavan danger area which neither Ciaran Brady nor Killian Clarke could intercept.
McGurn still had a bit to do but kept his composure well and cut back inside Clarke before slotting a low shot to the net.
The three-pointer propelled Fermanagh into the lead for the first time, 1-2 to 0-4.
Lynch's point on the counter attack for Cavan, when he collected the ball with that neat chip flick, tied it up again briefly.
But then Fermanagh goalkeeper McNally came striding forward in first-half stoppage time and boomed over a huge point from a free.
That left Fermanagh with the narrow interval lead and targeting back to back wins over their Ulster rivals.
Cavan were the stronger side in the second-half though and march into a healthy lead with half a dozen points in the third quarter, half of those coming from Galligan.
Fermanagh did get it back to a one-point game at the hour mark following scores from Ryan Jones, substitute Sean Quigley and Lyons.
But they didn't score again as Cavan finished strongly, picking off points from Gearoid McKiernan, Conor Smith, Galligan, Oisin Brady and Conor Madden to win with a little to spare.
Cavan scorers: Raymond Galligan 0-4 (0-2f, 0-2 45), Paddy Lynch 0-3 (0-2f), Oisin Brady 0-2, Gearoid McKiernan 0-2 (0-1f), Ryan O'Neill 0-1, James Smith 0-1, Dara McVeety 0-1, Conor Smith 0-1, Conor Madden 0-1.
Fermanagh scorers: Darragh McGurn 1-0, Ryan Lyons 0-3 (0-2f), Sean McNally 0-1 (0-1f), Aidan Breen 0-1, Ryan Jones 0-1, Sean Quigley 0-1.
CAVAN: Raymond Galligan; Niall Carolan, Padraig Faulkner, Ciaran Brady; Dara McVeety, Killian Clarke, Cian Madden; Jack McKenna, James Smith; Gerard Smith, Gearoid McKiernan, Jonathan McCabe; Oisin Brady, Paddy Lynch, Ryan O'Neill.
Subs: Conor Brady for McKenna 19, Jason McLoughlin for Carolan h/t, Conor Smith for O'Neill 46, Conor Madden for McKiernan 63, Tiarnan Madden for McCabe 66.
FERMANAGH: Sean McNally; Lee Cullen, Che Cullen, Luke Flanagan; Jonathan Cassidy, Shane McGullion, Cian McManus; Ryan Jones, Brandon Horan; Josh Largo Ellis, Ryan Lyons, Ronan McCaffrey; Ultan Kelm, Darragh McGurn, Aidan Breen.
Subs: Sean Quigley McCusker for Breen 43, Declan McCusker for McManus 43, Conor McShea for Largo Ellis 52, Garvan Jones for McGurn 59, Conor McGee for Horan 73.
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).