Down battle past blues
Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Cavan 0-12 Down 1-11.
IT was more bump and grind than super styling but Down got the job done by defeating an initially dogged and the lively Cavan.
As expected in January, the wet conditions and heavy footing at Breffni Park wasn't conducive to overly exciting football albeit there were several fine performers including that of future star Danny Savage, Glasdrumman's lively young Connaire Harrison, and St Peter's Warrenpoint's sharp Ryan Boyle who kept his man scoreless playing in an unfamiliar corner back.
Unfortunately for Burren's Dan McCartan and Darren O'Hagan of Clonduff most of Cavan's attacking traffic was channelled down their flank with Martin Dunne grabbing an impressive nine points for Cavan.
A lean looking Benny Coulter made a return to the red and black after replacing his Mayobridge club-mate Conor Garvey on 10 minutes, and it was his two points, which proved crucial.
Aidan Carr was yet again the engine and at times inspiration of the team, his visionary passes set up the majority of Down scores although Cavan punished those that failed to come off.
With the game running against the Mourne men, Wee James introduced wee Conor Laverty and Liam Doyle and they helped shore up the result, with Laverty winning frees and Doyle converting.
Down got off to a stunning start with a goal on five minutes. Conor Garvey floated his pass long into the forward line where Paul McComiskey caught, swivelled and fisted to Harrison who striding towards goal drilled high and into the net, with Cavan keeper Alan O'Mara getting his fingers to the ball.
A minute later Boyle tagged on a point, for a dream debut something he was happy about.
“It was good to make my debut for the county and I am just glad we got the two points," said Boyle.
“It is always good on a debut to put the ball over the bar and it settled well for the rest of the game."
A natural wing-back for his club Boyle told the Democrat he is happy to play anywhere for Down but insists he is not simply in the Down team for the experience but to "try and break into the squad and hopefully win an Ulster Championship."
And it is that mentality Down needs if they are to succeed.
While Cavan's midfielder Gearoid McKiernan bagged his first of three points, Down were in control with Savage and Harrison adding to Down's tally.
However, Cavan grew in confidence as their midfield of Tomas Corr and McKiernan out jumped and out battled Down's experimental Kevin McKernan and Kalumn King.
The Mourne defence came under a barrage of pressure and suddenly only two points separated the sides.
Coulter stopped the rot with a wonderful long-range point and Harrison responded to Carr's quick thinking, with a speedily delivered free, by pointing but still the Blues battled back and the sides were level on 0-8 to 1-05 at half time.
Dunne put Cavan ahead for the first time but Coulter did well to stay on his feet and steer his effort over the bar on 46 minutes.
Momentum was with Cavan but each time they scored Down pulled a score back. Ryan Kelly weighed in with two points either side of Doyle 's (2) marvellous efforts, including a 40-metre free from hands (2).
The Mourne men led by three points and Cavan pushed for a goal in injury-time, but Down held on for deserved victory.
The young players have given James McCartan food for thought, but it simply things that Down need to get right to improve. Winning possession under the high-ball, man-marking when the defensive system breaks down and releasing the attacking pass early are areas the Mourne men will be working on and if they get that right they have a squad capable of competing with the best in Division One in the National League next month.
DOWN: Michael Cunningham, Dan McCartan, Benny McArdle, Ryan Boyle (0-1), Darren O'Hagan, Gerard McAnulty, Conor Garvey, Kalumn King, Kevin McKernan, Ryan Kelly (0-2, 1 free), Aidan Carr (0-1), Danny Savage (0-1, free), Connaire Harrison (1-2), Peter Turley and Paul McComiskey.
Subs used: Benny Coulter (0-2) for Garvey 10', Owen Costello for McAnulty 57', Liam Doyle (0-2) and Conor Laverty for Aidan Carr and Savage 46, and Carr for King 61'.
CAVAN: Alan O'Mara, Oisin Minagh, John McCutcheon, Killian Brady, Padraig Reilly, Alan Clarke, Damien O'Reilly, Tomas Corr, Gearoid McKiernan (0-3), Cian Mackey, Niall McDermott, Mark McKeever, Kevin Meehan, Declan McKiernan and Martin Dunne (0-9, 4f).
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