Gaelic GamesDivision Two round-up

Fermanagh win the battle but fail to hold on to Division Two status

Division Two round-up: Louth battle back against Kildare to stay up; Donegal captain Patrick McBrearty limps off in win over Meath; late scores earn Armagh draw in Cork

Cavan 1-13 Fermanagh 2-14

Fermanagh won the battle but lost the war as despite an impressive performance and deserved victory in Cavan for the second year in succession they couldn’t preserve their Division Two status.

A virtuoso display from full forward Garvan Jones, who finished with 1-8 (1-7 from play), was key as the away side picked up their second victory of the campaign. But it was all in vain as Louth’s win over Kildare condemned Kieran Donnelly’s men to relegation.

Fermanagh, despite kicking seven wides, went in at half-time holding a 1-6 to 0-4 lead and they were value for it. With captain Declan McCusker causing problems and Jones landing four good points, the Erne men – scrapping for their lives – were dominant.

From early on, the tone was set. Before a small and muted home crowd, Fermanagh were outworking a Cavan side who came into the game with nothing to play for only pride and avoiding the prospect of going into the championship against Monaghan in two weeks without a win in three matches.


Cavan, who had only hit the net in one of the previous six matches in the campaign, struggled to break down a well-organised Fermanagh defence and, on kick-outs, found it difficult to win primary possession.

While Paddy Lynch levelled matters with a free and a mark, quality scores from McCusker and Jones doubled the visitors’ advantage. The key score in the first half was a superbly-taken Seán Cassidy goal five minutes from the break as he rattled the roof of the net after latching on to a perfect Jones pass.

Cavan made three changes at half-time and showed more fight on the resumption, with a brilliantly-taken goal from Paddy Lynch – who bagged 1-7 – helping cut the gap to three at one stage.

But Fermanagh deservedly held on to leave Cavan with a lot of questions ahead of their trip to Clones to face Monaghan in a fortnight.

CAVAN: Gary O’Rourke; Cian Reilly, Brían O’Connell, Luke Fortune; Ciarán Brady, Conor Rehill (0-1), Niall Carolan; James Smith (0-2), Killian Clarke; Dara McVeety, Oisín Brady, Oisín Kiernan; Ryan O’Neill, Paddy Lynch (1-7, 0-5f, 0-1m), Caoimhín O’Reilly

Subs: Cormac O’Reilly (0-1) for R O’Neill (17 mins); Conor Brady for K Clarke, Cian Madden (0-2, 0-1 mark) for Caoimhín O’Reilly, Tiarnan Madden for O Kiernan (all h-t), Paddy Meade for L Fortune (67).

FERMANAGH: Ross Bogue; Lee Cullen, Che Cullen, Oisín Smyth; Declan McCusker (0-2), Shane McGullion, Cian McManus; Fionán O’Brien (0-2), Joe McDade; Conor McGee, Conor McShea, Ronan McCaffrey (0-1); Ultan Kelm, Garvan Jones (1-8, 0-1f), Sean Cassidy (1-1, 0-1f).

Subs: Josh Largo-Ellis for C McManus (temp 20-23 mins); J Largo-Ellis for R McCaffrey (47); B Horan for C McManus (59); Diarmuid King for S Cassidy (63); Oisín Murphy for D McCusker (65).

Referee: Kieran Eannetta (Tyrone).

Kildare 0-12 Louth 1-12

Three minutes into the second-half in Carlow, the NFL’s Division Two table had Kildare and Louth rock bottom and relegated.

Paddy Woodgate had just put Kildare ahead at that stage and with Fermanagh beating Cavan elsewhere, disaster loomed for Ger Brennan and Louth.

They responded powerfully though and pulled themselves out of a sticky situation with six of the game’s next seven points to take full control of the game and their season.

Ryan Burns’s 14th-minute goal will go down as the difference between the teams and the experienced attacker finished with 1-2 overall.

But it was the character displayed by the entire team in that second half which was most impressive and which helped secure their third win of the campaign, ultimately hauling them out of the bottom two and keeping them in Division Two for a third year.

Manager Brennan revealed afterwards that he told the players at half-time that Fermanagh were further ahead of Cavan than they actually were.

Perhaps that psychological stroke explained the noticeable increase in their intensity after the break, with their powerful press and general appetite for destruction taking its toll on a brittle Kildare.

Sam Mulroy registered five points and while they were all from placed balls, he won several of them himself and was typically influential, while Louth scores from Conor Grimes and Tom Jackson helped turn the screw also.

It’s Kildare’s seventh consecutive defeat and if both themselves and Louth find a way to win their opening Leinster SFC games on April 14th, they will meet again on April 28th.

Aaron Masterson boomed over three points for Kildare while Shane Farrell won three frees that were converted, though it was another poor return overall from Glenn Ryan’s men.

Louth were five ahead late on before Kevin Feely and Woodgate pulled back stoppage-time Kildare points. The ‘hosts’ threw the kitchen sink at it late on in search of a goal but those have been as rare as hen’s teeth for them all season.

KILDARE: M Donnellan; M O’Grady, R Houlihan, S Ryan; P McDermott (0-1), E Doyle, B Byrne; A Masterson (0-3), L Killian; S Farrell, S O’Sullivan, A Beirne; P Woodgate (0-4, 0-2f, 0-1 45), D Flynn (0-1), K Feely (0-2, 0-2f).

Subs: J Sargent for Doyle (18 mins); R Burke for Houlihan (26); D Kirwan (0-1) for O’Sullivan (50); B Coffey for Flynn (64); R Teahan for Farrell (67).

LOUTH: N McDonnell; D Campbell, P Lynch, D McKenny; C McKeever, A Williams, L Grey (0-1); T Durnin, C Murphy; C Grimes (0-1), C Downey (0-1), T Jackson (0-2); R Burns (1-2), S Mulroy (0-5, 0-5f), C Keenan.

Subs: C Lennon for Murphy (40 mins); L Jackson for T Jackson (65); N Sharkey for Burns, D Corcoran for Keenan (both 72).

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).

Donegal 1-18 Meath 1-10

A night that appeared one of little consequence suddenly turned into something very different for Donegal after an injury to captain Patrick McBrearty just a month out from their Ulster Championship opener against Derry.

McBrearty was helped off and down the tunnel of Seán MacCumhaill Park in the 29th minute.

“We won’t pre-empt anything, but when you see a guy like that going off and in that manner, you’re always worried,” Donegal manager Jim McGuinness said.

“We’ll have to wait and see how that develops over the next couple of days.

“You’re playing in a dead-rubber game and you have one fairly significant injury and possibly another one. It’s not ideal.”

The other possible casualty was Ryan McHugh, McBrearty’s Kilcar club colleague who suffered an apparent shoulder injury, while the likes of Brendan McCole, Jason McGee, Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Michael Langan remain in the Tir Chonaill treatment room.

Jamie Brennan bagged the goal in the 50th minute, dancing beyond Meath goalkeeper Billy Hogan to slot home, that helped Donegal to an ultimately comfortable win.

The game was only 14 seconds old when Cathal Hickey riffled in a Meath goal to rock the hosts back on their heels.

Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton thwarted James Conlon who found himself with a sight of another Royal goal in the 14th minute.

Donegal managed to shake their heads clear and, as an Oisín Gallen brace sandwiching points from Jamie Brennan and Aaron Doherty within a two-minute spell, they were 0-5 to 1-0 ahead in the 26th minute.

The lead was out to four, 0-10 to 1-3, by half-time before Brennan struck gold.

“A lot of work to do,” offered McGuinness. “A lot of tidying up to be done.”

DONEGAL: S Patton; M Curran, S McMenamin, C Moore; R McHugh (0-2), C McGonagle, P Mogan; H McFadden (0-1), C Thompson (0-3, 0-2f); S O’Donnell (0-2), A Doherty (0-1), J Brennan (1-1); P McBrearty, O Gallen (0-4), D O Baoill.

Subs: J Mac Ceallabhui (0-1) for McBrearty (20 mins); N O’Donnell (0-2) for O Baoill (h-t); C McColgan for McHugh (45); L McGlynn (0-1) for McFadden (54); JR Molloy for McMenamin (54).

MEATH: B Hogan; H O’Higgins, A O’Neill, B O’Halloran; A McDonnell, D Keogan (0-1), R Ryan; R Jones (0-1), C McBride; D Moriarty, R Kinsella (0-1), C Hickey (1-0); S Walsh (0-1), J Conlon (0-2), K Curtis (0-2).

Subs: J O’Connor (0-1) for Moriarty (47 mins); D Dixon for McBride (51); A Lynch (0-1, f) for Walsh (56); M Murphy for O’Higgins (58); C Caulfield for McDonnell (62).

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).

Cork 2-16 Armagh 2-16

A dramatic Armagh comeback rescued a draw from their trip to Cork with stoppage-time points from Aidan Nugent and Oisín Conaty.

The Rebels had trailed until second-half goals from Chris Óg Jones and Luke Fahy – the first Armagh had conceded all year – turned the tide but Rory Grugan’s 69th-minute strike brought the visitors back within one.

Conor Corbett added a point but it wasn’t enough. Cork still had the final shot from Steven Sherlock but his left-footed effort faded inches wide.

It meant already-qualified Armagh advanced to the final behind Donegal in second, while Cork finished fourth to copperfasten their place in the top 16 for Sam Maguire football.

In cold conditions, this open and entertaining game equalled the scoring of the Hurling League semi-final that preceded it as Cork had 10 different players registering.

They had a strong wind at their backs in the first half and Colm O’Callaghan was quick to make the most of it with two points.

Before long, Armagh’s movement began to trouble the hosts. Conaty blazed over the bar when through put in the 19th minute, they had the lead goal.

Grugan’s gorgeous pass split the rearguard and while Connaire Mackin’s shot was well saved by Micheál Aodh Martin, corner back Peter McGrane pounced to palm home.

It was 1-9 to 0-9 at half-time but the sides were back level in the 43rd minute with a rasper to the roof of the net off the outside of Jones’s boot after Brian Hurley turned over possession.

It was a bad time for Armagh’s shooting, perfect until the 45th minute, to begin to misfire and on the hour Cork jumped ahead off another attacking turnover, this time by Jones. Conor Corbett again played the linkman and Fahy slid the ball under Blaine Hughes.

A late handling error by Martin under Nugent’s dipping shot allowed Grugan to find the net and Armagh would maintain their unbeaten record at the death.

CORK: MA Martin; M Shanley (0-1), D O’Mahony, T Walsh; L Fahy (1-0), S Meehan, M Taylor (0-1); I Maguire (0-1), C O’Callaghan (0-3); P Walsh (0-1, mark), S Powter, B O’Driscoll (0-1); C Óg Jones (1-3), C Corbett (0-1), B Hurley (0-4, 0-3 frees).

Subs: K O’Hanlon for P Walsh (49 mins); S Sherlock for Hurley (56); E McSweeney for O’Hanlon (64, inj); M Cronin for Powter (67); K Flahive for T Walsh (70+2).

ARMAGH: B Hughes; P Burns, B McCambridge, P McGrane (1-0); G McCabe, A McKay, T Kelly; Connaire Mackin, B Crealey (0-2, 0-1 mark); J McElroy, R Grugan (1-3, 0-3 frees), J Duffy; C Turbitt (0-5, 0-2 frees), R O’Neill, O Conaty (0-4).

Subs: J Óg Burns (0-1) for Mackin (21 mins, inj); A Nugent (0-1) for Duffy (h-t), R McQuillan for McElroy (both h-t); S Campbell for O’Neill (49); O O’Neill for McCambridge (70+2).

Referee: B Griffin (Kerry).