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Adrian Smith, Crosserlough, and Shane Duffy, Kinsgcourt, during the Cavan SFC Final at Kingspan Breffni.
Adrian Smith, Crosserlough, and Shane Duffy, Kinsgcourt, during the Cavan SFC Final at Kingspan Breffni.

Cavan decider finishes level

Cavan Senior Football Championship


By Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni

Injury time points from David Shalvey and Mark Stuart saw Crosserlough salvage a draw in this thrilling Cavan SFC final played under lights at Cavan HQ this evening.

Jimmy Higgins’s side came into the game as favourites and looked to be on the verge of ending a 48-year wait for the Oliver Plunkett Cup when they opened a seven-point lead, but the Stars, 11-time winners and past masters in close matches, clawed their way back, with Padraig Faulkner outstanding.

In the end, a draw was probably a fair result after an epic which ebbed and flowed, with both sides enjoying spells of dominance.

Crosserlough controlled the first half but by the interval, the Stars were still well in touch, trailing as they were by 1-7 to 1-4.

A goal from Padraig Faulkner in the 29th minute was key to that while, at the other end, Crosserlough squandered a number of chances, registering five wides in that first half.

Crosserlough started superbly, stringing together purposeful, fluent moves from the opening attack, which resulted in a point for the lively Adrian Smith.

Target man Patrick Lynch opened his account with a well-struck free from the ground and then sent over an attacking mark after gathering a Shane McVeety pass as the pre-match favourites eased three clear in the opening five minutes.

Kingscourt were pinned back and with county midfielder James Smith dominating in the air, their forward line was deprived of possession, resulting in Padraig Faulkner relocating to the middle.

But Crosserlough’s shooting was letting them down – from their first six shots, they registered three wides – and another couple of promising moves broke down, with David Shalvey fluffing his lines when a goal chance materialised on 10 minutes.

James Smith took a pass from Adrian Smith and curled in a super point to put four between them but the Stars finally got off the mark on 14 minutes when top scorer Barry Reilly converted a free after a foul on Faulkner.

Crosserlough were well on top by now; James Smith won the next kick-out and Brandon Boylan converted an attacking mark and then came the first goal of the contest. Stephen Smith picked out Adrian Smith with a nice pass; the corner-forward’s first touch was perfect and with his second, he blasted to the net.

Kevin Curtis and Patrick Lynch exchanged points – both attacking marks – before Barry Reilly swung in a free after a foul on the impressive Corrigan.

Stephen Smith and Barry Reilly both raised white flags with quality scores from play but Kingscourt refused to panic and came up with a great goal of their own when Reilly played Faulkner in and the captain did the rest, sending a powerful shot to the roof of the net.

That left three between them at the break but Crosserlough restored their six-point advantage seconds into the restart when a shot from Lynch dropped short and wing-back Cian Boylan sent a great shot to the roof of Darragh McKenna’s net.

The Lough now found themselves in a similar position to where they were in the 2018 final, six points up early in the second half. Could they hold out?

Kingscourt’s response was emphatic. A nonchalant point from Reilly got them going again, then the same man grabbed a break and drilled over and, on 40 minutes, sent over a free to leave it a three-point game.

Kingscourt were humming. Lynch (free) tacked one on for Crosserlough but they were beginning to send out distress flares as the Stars landed three in a row, a Shekleton free sandwiched by outstanding scores from play from Philip Tinnelly and Peter Corrigan.

And when John Oates and Corrigan combined well and Kevin Curtis punched to the net, the 11-time winners were two in front with eight minutes remaining.

Crosserlough hit back with a tricky free from Lynch but Reilly cancelled it out with a 46-metre effort from the deck. Lynch converted an attacking mark but when Tully clipped over to put two between them in injury time, that seemed to be that.

In the dying seconds, though, David Shalvey curled in a great point for Crosserlough and then, after Cian Shekleton was off target, they summoned an equaliser from somewhere when Mark Stuart got on the end of a good move to leave it all square.

Scorers for Crosserlough: Patrick Lynch 0-6 (3fs, 3ms), Adrian Smith 1-1, Cian Boylan 1-0, David Shalvey 0-1, Mark Stuart 0-1, James Smith 0-1, Stephen Smith 0-1, Brandon Boylan 0-1 (m).

Scorers for Kingscourt: Barry Reilly 0-7 (5fs), Kevin Curtis 1-1 (1m), Padraig Faulkner 1-0, Peter Corrigan 0-1, Barry Tully 0-1, Philip Tinnelly 0-1, Cian Shekleton 0-1 (f).

Crosserlough: Brian Malocca, John Cooke, Patrick O’Reilly, David Shalvey, Shane McVeety, Conor Rehill, Cian Boylan, Mark Stuart, James Smith, Shane McManus, Brandon Boylan, Darren Gaffney, Adrian Smith, Patrick Lynch, Stephen Smith.

Subs: Pierce Smith for McManus (40 mins), Ryan Galligan for Gaffney (46), Peter Smith for Adrian Smith (58).

Kingscourt Stars: Darragh McKenna, Cathal McKeown, Alan Clarke, Killian Farrelly, Shane Duffy, Paddy Meade, John Oates, Sean Burke, Peter Corrigan, Barry Tully, Philip Tinnelly, Kevin Curtis, Cian Shekleton, Padraig Faulkner, Barry Reilly.

Subs: Oisin Cunningham for Burke (46).