Derry’s renaissance continued with a third Qualifying success, Cavan beaten for a third time this season by the Oak Leaf county en route to a Round 4A ,eeting with Tipperary.
This was Derry’s 24th win in 36 ‘Qualifier’ games since their 2001 victory over Antrim in Casement Park and they are now just one win away from a quarter final place in the All Ireland championship.
Yet despite a superbly timed run onto a right wing cross by Ciaran McFaul and a perfectly fisted close range goal from Emmett McGuckin that gave Derry an early 1-01 to 0-03 lead, Derry struggled thereafter as Cavan recovered well at Kingspan Breffni Park to take a 0-11 to 1-04 lead to the break, dominant at midfield.
Derry lost James Kielt to a ‘black card’ in the 25th minute but his replacement Enda Lynn would go on to become an influential player in the second half when Cavan tired and Derry ran them ragged for long periods.
We expected to win the game and we have confounded our critics again. We did not play particularly well in the first half but then we decided to go for it, to make a few changes and I thought we deserved our victory.Damian Barton
Kielt had given Derry the lead but three quick-fire points from Mackey, McVeety and a McKiernan free put the home side in control.
After McGuckin’s major, Cavan outscored Derry by six points to one in the next 15 minutes, an inspirational Mark Lynch point keeping Derry in touch. Behind 0-09 to 1-02, ten minutes from half time, Christopher Bradley and Mark Lynch getting Derry’s last two points of the half.
However a red card for Cavan wing-back Feargal Flanagan in first half stoppage time proved the turning point.
Flanagan pleaded his innocence, and Laois referee Eddie Kinsella felt the wrath of the incensed Breffni fans as he exited the pitch at half time and throughout the second half, but it was the correct decision after he appeared to strike Lynch in the stomach.
Cavan’s 14 players held their lead until Derry substitute Niall Loughlin converted a 63rd minute ‘45’ for 1-12 to 0-15, McGuckin then racing in from the right wing to put Derry 1-14 to 0-16 up after Lynch, from a free, and Dara McVeety exchanged scores in a highly entertaining final quarter.
In added time, Lynn and outstanding substitute Niall Toner - who scored 0-03 in the last 10 minutes - had the large Derry contingent in vociferous mood when they opened a three point gap with time running out.
Jack Brady and ‘Player of the Match’ Lynch (he finished with 0-07) exchanged points before substitute Emmett Bradley should have put the result beyond doubt when put through by Lynn but he elected to go for goal and was denied by the keeper when a point would have extended the lead to four.
Indeed in the final play of the match Dara McVeety saw a snap shot on a loose ball skim the bar, the final whistle sweet music to Derry ears.
Assistant manager Brian McGuckin reflected on the game, especially the similarities with the win over Meath.
“It’s a bit deja vu really, pretty similar to last week where we didn’t play to our full potential in the first half but came out and played the shirts off our backs in the second half.”
“The players who came off the bench were key last week and again this week. I said to the boys before the game, the one thing that has been created among the squad has been serious competitiveness.
“Thankfully the boys have bought in and put in a huge effort. The attitude, commitment, energy and enthusiasm of every single player has been quite astonishing from that day and thankfully it’s starting to pay dividends.”
However as has been a problem all season Derry’s midfield failed to function for long periods.
“They were dominating our kick outs,” added McGuckin, “That was something we were very aware about with Cavan in previous games. We were trying to get men free but they were winning the breaks.
“There was a bit of confusion but at the start of the second half we moved Chrissy (McKaigue) on to McKiernan which was a big plus because he did a phenomenal job on him. Certainly in the second half we put all of the wrongs of the first half right.
“When we got to within a point of them, we really had the momentum. Prior to that, it was point for point and could have went either way. But when we brought it back to a point I could really feel a momentum building and we had the right players on the pitch at that time.
“We had players with a lot of energy, players who could take men on. There was great support off the shoulder, there was a great focal point with Emmett (McGuckin) and Mark (Lynch) in the full forward line, so everything worked in our favour.
On a majestic performance from Mark Lynch he said, “He is a phenomenal character, his leadership qualities are second to none. He is the first man at training every night and he is the last to leave the field. He is always gives you 100%, he is the absolute professional and I’m delighted for Mark because he had an off day against Louth.”
Derry manager Damian Barton stated bluntly, “We expected to win the game and we have confounded our critics again. We did not play particularly well in the first half but then we decided to go for it, to make a few changes and I thought we deserved our victory.”
Derry: Thomas Mallon; Gareth McKinless, Christopher McKaigue, Karl McKaigue; Ciaran McFaul, Brendan Rogers, Ciarán Mullan; Conor McAtamney (0-1), Niall Holly; Danny Heavron (0-1), Christopher Bradley (0-1); Eoghan Brown; James Kielt (0-1), Emmett McGuckin (1-01), Mark Lynch (0-07, 4f). (Subs) Enda Lynn (0-1) for J Kielt, (Black Card) 25 mins; Niall Loughlin (0-1, 1 forty-five) for E Brown 31 mins; Niall Toner (0-3) for C Bradley 48 mins; Emmett Bradley for C McAtamney 51 mins; Liam McGoldrick for B Rogers 61 mins; Neil Forester for C McFaul 70 mins
Cavan: Raymond Galligan (0-3, 3 forty fives); Killian Brady, Rory Dunne, Padraig Faulker; Feargal Flanagan, Conor Moynagh (0-1), Martin Reilly (0-2); Tomas Corr, Michael Argue (0-1); Dara McVeety (0-3), Gearóid McKiernan (0-4, 3f), Killian Clarke; Cian Mackey (0-1), Jack Brady (0-1, 1f), Seanie Johnston (0-1, 1f). (Subs) Niall Murray for M Argue HT; Ciaran Brady for P Faulker 46 mins; Jason McLaughlin for K Brady 53 mins; Tom Hayes for S Johnston 57mins; Gerard Smith (0-1) for T Corr 68 mins.
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois)