The adage that ‘goals win matches’ reverberated around Brewster Park, Enniskillen last Sunday as Cavan achieved their goal of extending their championship season and now face a most intriguing clash at home against Kildare and former player Seanie Johnston in the second round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
Trailing by O-13 to 0-7 fifteen minutes into the second half of their first round game, the Breffni blues looked to be in deep trouble against Fermanagh.
However in a spell-binding 90 second period, Terry Hyland’s charges turned the game on its head with two goals and never looked back thereafter.
Cavan were on their knees and were out of sorts before a brilliant goal by Gearoid McKiernan (51st minute) and a follow-up effort by Niall McDermott catapulted them into a lead (2-8 to 0-13) they never subsequently relinquished.
Despite their gutsy fightback which saw them totally dominate their opponents between the 50th and 65 minutes, Cavan were far from impressive last Sunday in overall terms.
Fermanagh flattered to deceive in steering their way into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.
Jack Brady got Cavan up and running with a neat point after barely 30 seconds but the would-be winners had an eye for goal too and they carved out their first effort at notching a major after only seven minutes. Eugene Keating let fly on goal but his daisy cutter whistled past the far post before team-mate David Givney could get a toe to the ball.
A classy Niall Smith fisted point (17 mins) was countered by a similarly neat effort by Tomas Corrigan but after Jack Brady followed up a Paul Ward (Fermanagh) point by splitting the posts in the 20th minute, that, amazingly, was to be the visitors final point of the first half.
Fermanagh proceeded to notch five unanswered points in the run in to half-time with full-forward Daniel Kille accounting for four of his side’s first half points and they found themselves sitting pretty at the interval on the back of a 0-8 to 0-5 lead.
Cavan copied their start to the first half on the restart and they once again had Fermanagh on the back foot. Gearoid McKiernan was relocated to midfield on the back of David Givney’s enforced withdrawal due to injury and the big Swanlinbar man was to go on to exert a major influence on proceedings from his normal berth.
The blues laboured to eat into Fermanagh’s cushioned half-time lead and with 20 minutes left to play, five points (0-13 to 0-8) represented Cavan’s deficit.
But Tommy McElroy lost possession in the 51st minute and Gearoid McKiernan hoovered up possession before goaling in spectacular style. Less than two minutes later, McKiernan turned provider by setting up Niall McDermott for a clinical goal to leave Cavan a single point ahead.
As the rain made its appearance with 15 minutes left to play, Kevin Tierney saw his goal attempt well blocked by Ronan Gallagher. A certain inevitability hung over proceedings from there to the finish as Cavan were in control.
Niall Smith and Gearoid McKiernan combined to put Eugene Keating through for a decisive third goal (61 minute) and Cavan’s comeback was almost complete as they enjoyed a 3-10 to 0-14 lead.
Fermanagh failed to rescue the situation and Cavan were able to win pulling up with all four substitutes impressing in the morale boosting victory.
CAVAN: James Reilly; Killian Clarke, Padraig O’Reilly, Darragh Tighe; Mark McKeever, Fergal Flanagan, Damien O’Reilly (0-1); David Givney, Thomas Corr (0-1); Niall Smith (0-1), Gearoid McKiernan (1-1), Ronan Flanagan; Niall McDermott (1-1, one free), Eugene Keating (1-1), Jack Brady (0-4, two frees).
Subs:- Kevin Tierney (0-1) for D Givney (injured, 34 mins); Jason McLoughlin (0-1) for K Clarke (half-time); Declan McKiernan (0-1) for M McKeever (46 mins); Kevin Meehan for N Smith (66 mins).
FERMANAGH: Ronan Gallagher; John Woods, Barry Owens, Niall Bogue; Brian Cox, Niall McGovern, Barry Mulrone; Shane Lyons, Eoin Donnelly; Tommy McElroy, Paul Ward (0-1), Ryan Jones (0-2); Conor Quigley, Daniel Kille (0-9, six frees), Tomas Corrigan (0-3).
Subs:- Declan McCusker for T McElroy (51 mins); Martin McGrath for S Lyons (54 mins); Michael Jones for P Ward (63 mins); Paul Cosgrove for B Mulrone (64 mins).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).