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Allianz FL D1: McKiernan inspires Cavan

Raymond Galligan and Gearoid McKiernan celebrate at Elverys MacHale Park.

Raymond Galligan and Gearoid McKiernan celebrate at Elverys MacHale Park.

Allianz Football League Division One

**CAVAN 1-14 MAYO 0-15 **

By Colm Gannon at Elverys MacHale Park

Cavan boosted their survival hopes with a wonderful win over Mayo in Castlebar on Sunday afternoon, going in at the break trailing by a single point they were by far the better side in the second half and ran out two point winners against last year’s beaten All Ireland finalists.

When the game was there to be won Cavan dug deepest and led by the inspirational Gearoid McKiernan who kicked 1-5 they strangled the Mayo attack and broke from defence with power and purpose in the closing 35 minutes.

Mayo went into an early two point lead through scores from Tom Parsons and Andy Moran, McKiernan got the Cavan scores rolling with a well hit free, before two more Mayo scores put them back in control of the game after 15 minutes.

The sides traded scores with McKiernan and Dara McVeety (twice) hitting the target for Cavan and Moran, Kevin McLoughlin, Conor O’Shea and Danny Kirby kicking points for Mayo to put them into a 0-9 to 0-4 lead with two minutes left before the half time whistle.

Two minutes into injury time the vital score of the day came. Killian Clarke climbed high to win a mark from a kick-out and set in motion a move that saw Martin Reilly playing a defence splitting pass that ended up with McKiernan finding the back of the net from close range to send his side in trailing by just one point at the break.

Mayo pushed that lead out to two second after the restart thanks to a Kirby score, but Cavan hit four points on the bounce through Rory Dunne, Conor Madden, McKiernan and Tomas Corr. Cavan were hassling and harrying the Mayo attack forcing them to turnover the ball and setting Cavan off on blistering counter attacks.

Both sides swapped a number of points each with Andy Moran and two monsters from Lee Keegan finding the range for Mayo and Martin Reilly and Corr hitting the target for the visitors to leave the score all square at 0-14 to 1-11 with 15 minutes left.

Shane Nally edged Mayo back in front for the final time on 58 minutes, but Cavan came on strong again and kicked the final three points of the game, through a McKiernan free, a long range effort from McVeety and substitute John McCutcheon.

Cavan’s defence was top class in the second half, and Mayo’s lack of shooters from range cost them as they were forced to constantly recycle the ball over and back outside of scoring range. Cillian O’Connor was held scorless for the day and he ended up on the losing side to a team that contained his first cousin Paul O’Connor, who came off the bench for the Breffni men in the closing stages.

Scorers for Cavan: G McKiernan 1-5 (3fs), D McVeety 0-3, T Corr 0-2, R Dunne, C Madden, M Reilly, J McCutcheon 0-1 each.

Scores for Mayo: D Kirby 0-4, A Moran 0-3, C O’Shea and Lee Keegan 0-2 each, T  Parsons, F Boland, K McLoughlin (f) and S Nally 0-1 each.

CAVAN: R Galligan; K Brady, R Dunne, F Reilly; G Smith, K Clarke, C Moynagh; G McKiernan, T Corr; M Reilly, D McVeety, N Clerkin; N Murray, C Madden, S Johnston.

Subs: C Mackey for Johnston, C Brady for Clerkin, S Murray for Murray, J McCutcheon for Madden, P O’Connor for Corr.

MAYO: D Clarke; B Harrison, K Higgins, P Durcan; C Boyle, L Keegan, D Vaughan; T Parsons, D Kirby; F Boland, C O’Connor, C O’Shea; K McLoughlin, A Moran, C Loftus.

Subs: S Coen for Vaughan, S Nally for Boland, N Douglas for O’Shea, E Regan for Loftus, J Gibbons for Parsons

REFEREE: A Nolan (Wicklow).