By John Fegan
Cavan 1-14 – 1-13 Down
A game of two halves.
How many times has that cliche been thrown about but never a truer word spoken about this match.
Down started like a house on fire all their marquee players stepping up.
Jerome Johnston having a half that he could only dream of.
The pace of Liam kerr and Caolan Mooney making run after run tearing through the Cavan defence with kerr setting up Ceilum Doherty to hit the back of the net.
Cavan looked tired, leggy even with 5 weeks of conservative football seemingly taking its toll.
Down cruising at the break, nine points to the good.
Down supporters thinking of an Ulster Final.
But this Cavan team never knows when it is beaten.
The introduction of Conor Madden swung this tie and Cavan found a new belief.
They pressed Down higher up the pitch and started delivering direct high balls into full forward Galligan and they caused umpteen chances one leading to a penalty converted my the impressive Martin Reilly.
Resilience, character and the ability to press Down from every angle allowed Cavan to chip away at Downs lead.
Down went long with 12 kickouts Cavan won 10 of them allowing them to get a strangle hold on the match.
Down could not get their hands on the ball and when they did gave away cheap possession taking the wrong option more times than not.
But this was Cavans day. They will need to start quicker the next day to have any chance of turning over the Donegal juggernaut.
Scorers for Cavan: G McKiernan 0-3 (3fs) T Galligan 0-3 (1m), M Reilly 1-0 Pen, C Madden 0-3, K Brady 0-2, P Faulkner, C Brady 0-1 each, S Smith 0-1 (f).
Scorers for Down: J Johnston 0-6 (1m), D O’Hare 0-4 (3fs), C Doherty 1-0, P Devlin 0-2 (1 45).
CAVAN: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, L Fortune; G Smith, C Brady, P Graham; K Clarke, K Brady; M Reilly, G McKiernan, O Kiernan; O Pierson, T Galligan, S Smith
Subs: C Conroy for Graham, C Madden for Pierson (HT), TE Donoghue for S Smith (51), C Timoney for K Brady (60), N Murray for M Reilly (69).
DOWN: R Burns; P Fegan, P Murdock, P Laverty; L Kerr, K McKernan, D Guinness; C Mooney, J Flynn; B O’Hagan, P Devlin, C Poland; J Johnston, D O’Hare, C Doherty
Subs: S Johnston for Kerr (49), D Ward for Devlin (51), C Quinn for O’Hagan (57), J Guinness for Poland (65), R Johnston for D Guinness (67)