Cavan’s two injury-time goals seal deserved win over near neighbours Monaghan

Paddy Lynch in outstanding form to score 1-9 as the wind dominates Ulster Championship opener in Clones

Ulster SFC preliminary round: Monaghan 1-12 Cavan 3-12

No secrets between these two. On a day when the gale swirling around Clones made everyone unsteady on their feet, Cavan were much the more solid proposition. They took immense delight in sending their neighbours out of the Ulster Championship, rattling in two injury-time goals to see it out.

Led by the brilliant Paddy Lynch, who ended the day with 1-9 to his name, Cavan were rock steady against the wind and ultimately made more of it when they had it. They outscored Monaghan by 3-7 to 1-5 when they had it at their backs in the second period. The paltry 8,324 crowd spent an hour wondering would the game have a goal in it – it turned out to have four. Cavan could have had five or six.

Two of them came during the 10 minutes of injury-time brought about because of a long stoppage when Darren Hughes was stretchered off. The midfielder who has been a fixture for Monaghan since making his debut in the 2006 Tommy Murphy Cup came down awkwardly in a duel for the ball over by the hill sideline and he was taken to hospital. At 37, there has to be a fear that this might have been his last intercounty game.

“He’s away to hospital,” Vinny Corey said afterwards. “That’s the big loss out of it. This is Darren’s 18th season and to see him go off like that there is devastating. Whatever about the result, we just hope that whatever injury he has got, isn’t a bad one.”


The wind set the context for everything here. It sent kick-outs over sidelines, it turned point attempts into goal chances. It wasn’t a simple matter of the team who had it at their back being able to kick what they liked – it set a knottier riddle than that. The players had to learn how to measure it, without spending so much time on their deliberations that they got bottled up by the opposition.

The earliest cheer of the day – and one of the biggest – came before throw-in when Rory Beggan’s named was announced as starting. After a couple of months in the US chasing a job in the NFL, he was back to more humdrum duties here. Missing the league clearly did him no harm – he sauntered up for an early 45 and tacked on another free coming up to the half-hour.

He also pulled off a stunning save from Paddy Lynch, low to his right when the Cavan full forward had snuck in behind the cover. He finished the day with three points to his name, including one from play. And though he got caught up the pitch a couple of times, including for Lynch’s sealing goal at the end, he gave Monaghan a dimension they had been lacking.

Cavan were well fit for what Corey’s side brought, though. A late Lynch free just before half-time sent the sides in at 0-7 to 0-5 in Monaghan’s favour and though Conor McManus and Jack McCarron had swished a couple of fine scores from play, it was hard not to feel that the wind should have been worth more to the home side. When a Beggan 45 soon after the break got held up in the wind 10 yards short of the posts, it seemed to confirm as much.

And when Cavan followed up at the other end with two wind-assisted scores from Oisín Brady and Gerard Smith, you had to make Ray Galligan’s side warm favourites. A bit of patience, some judicious shooting, nothing stupid at the back and they would surely see it out from there. With Lynch faultless from placed balls – seven frees and a 45 from eight attempts – all they needed was a goal and they would be comfortable.

When it came, Pádraig Faulkner was the unlikely source, the defender finding himself at the edge of the D, turning Kevin Loughran and roofing his finish. It put Cavan 1-9 to 0-10 to the good and that really should have been that.

But Monaghan had one comeback in them. Corey’s substitutes all had an impact and when Micheál Hamill cracked home their goal on 66 minutes after good work by Conor McCarthy, the sides were suddenly level. Another sub, Joel Wilson, landed a mark soon after and when the board went up for 10 minutes of stoppage time, Monaghan were 1-11 to 1-10 ahead.

It felt like a bit of a mirage, all the same. Sure enough, Gerard Smith worked a fine goal down the other end, rifling home after a quick one-two with Cormac O’Reilly. And with Monaghan pushing everyone up in search of an equaliser, Lynch rounded off a massive display by rolling his shot into an empty net.

“It’s huge excitement,” said Galligan afterwards. “It’s great for the players, it’s great for the supporters to beat Monaghan because they are a top team. They have top players, same as ourselves, but when you see the work rate that went on you’d have to be proud of our boys today.”

MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan (0-3, 0-1 45, 0-1 free); Ryan Wylie, Kieran Duffy, Ryan O’Toole; Karl O’Connell (0-1), Killian Lavelle, Conor McCarthy; Gary Mohan, Darren Hughes; Ciarán McNulty, Kevin Loughran, Jason Irwin; David Garland (0-1), Jack McCarron (0-2, 0-1 free), Conor McManus (0-3, 0-2 frees).

Subs: Michael Hamill (1-0) for McNulty (h-t); Joel Wilson (0-1, mark) for Hughes (45 mins); Seán Jones (0-1, mark) for Garland (53 mins); Michael Bannigan for McCarron (63); Stephen Mooney for McNulty (66).

CAVAN: Gary O’Rourke; Cian Reilly, Killian Brady, Brian O’Connell (0-1); Pádraig Faulkner (1-0), Niall Carolan, Conor Brady; James Smith, Oisín Kiernan (Denn); Ciarán Brady, Gerard Smith (1-1), Oisín Kiernan (Castlerahan); Cian Madden, Paddy Lynch (1-9, 0-6 frees, 0-1 45), Oisín Brady (0-1).

Subs: Luke Fortune for J Smith (51 mins); Tiarnan Madden for O Kiernan (Castlerahan) (54); Cormac O’Reilly for C Madden (65); Ryan Donoghue for Brady (77); Conor Rehill for Kiernan (Denn) (79).

Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times