Cavan finally reaped the rewards of their recent success at under-21 level when their senior team dumped Armagh out of the Ulster Championship with a shock 1-15 to 1-11 win in Breffni Park on Sunday.
Eugene Keating and Martin Dunne destroyed the Armagh defense, and Alan Clarke kept the talismanic Jamie Clarke scoreless as Cavan ran up a deserved win.
Afterwards boss Terry Hyland said, “We won because of honesty and hard work. It might be a cliché to say it but that is what the modern game is about, you have to work hard.
“We lost the ball and made mistakes but guys recovered and worked hard and got the ball back.
“Jamie Clarke is one hell of a player and you can’t afford to give him room in front of him. We identified that when Armagh have the ball, they move a lot of men forward so we didn’t necessarily need to have a lot of men back.
“We knew we were going to have lots of space in there and it was a matter of getting the right ball in. There might have been a bit of nerves early on.
“We have a lot of young lads in, and there was a big crowd but we settled in and played good football. It’s always nice to kick scores but the boys put the ball on a plate and it’s my job to kick them over.
“I’m not that big of a build but Eugene Keating is a good target man and took a few hits for me! He won a lot of ball and we enjoyed ourselves out there.”
Armagh boss Paul Grimley said he had no regrets about abandoning a sweeper system in the defeat to Cavan.
Grimley ditched the defensive attitude that has been Armagh’s forte in recent years but paid a heavy price as the plan backfired at Breffni Park.
The new boss said, “I could have gone back to using a sweeper but this is the way we have been working for the last six months.
“As I said to the boys at halftime, there wouldn’t be much too me if I changed it after 35 minutes. I was never tempted to do it.
“You have to stand by what you believe in, win or lose. People will point the finger and say it’s tactically naïve but that’s the way we’re going to play.
“I suppose you have to give Cavan credit for the tactics they used too.”
The Armagh boss was annoyed that referee Maurice Deegan failed to play the advantage rule when he disallowed a second half goal from Jamie Clarke.
Grimley added, “I thought there was an advantage rule, maybe referees’ boss Pat McEnaney can give me an explanation for that one. I accept it doesn’t look good for us tonight but we’ll see where we are in a few weeks time.
“Look at Laois last year – they were put out in the first round and got to the All-Ireland quarterfinals.”
Westmeath Doesn’t Fear Dublin
WESTMEATH will face champions Dublin in their next Leinster SFC clash – with manager Pat Flanagan adamant his team have nothing to fear after beating Carlow by 3-15 to 1-10 in Sunday’s opening round.
Dessie Dolan was in fine form for the winners and Kieran Martin (two) and James Dolan scored goals as Westmeath booked a quarterfinal place at Croke Park on Saturday, June 1.
Flanagan said, “The whole idea when we started this year was to get into fellas’ heads and have them believe that they can achieve anything.
“Not too many would have given us a chance of coming out of Division 2 at the start of this year. But we did that and it was a huge boost for us mentally, to come out of there. Next Saturday week’s game will all depend on our mentality, on what we can bring to the game.
“If we fear Dublin or stand back off Dublin they’re going to crucify us and we can’t afford to do that.
Look, this team of ours is developing very, very well and it will show up exactly how well when we go to play Dublin.
“I’m realistic about Dublin. Those guys are very experienced at winning Leinster championships and playing in All-Ireland finals. It’s relatively new for our lads to be even playing up there and it is their home patch. They have played there seven times already this year.
“But we’re going to go up there and give them the best battle we can give them.”
Man of the match Dolan came in for special praise from Flanagan who said, “It was a great boost to have Dessie there. What he provides in the dressing room and what he does out there on the field are huge.
“It was great to have his experience. He kicked one great point with his left foot after they had scored their goal. It’s little things like that that he brings to the team that’s very, very difficult for younger players to do.”
Carlow boss Anthony Rainbow said, “I thought we defended very well in the first 20 to 25 minutes. We seemed to frustrate Westmeath a small bit in that period and they were finding it hard to penetrate us in certain areas.
“Unfortunately, we gave away two goals very quickly and that put us on the back foot for the rest of the half. We had a good start to the second half. But Westmeath, as they’ve been doing all year, they’re very clinical and put up a big score again.”
Mayo Easily Beats Galway
MAYO hammered Galway by 17 points on Sunday in their first game since the All-Ireland final defeat to Donegal, but star man Alan Dillon is adamant they won’t get carried away with the big win.
Roscommon are next up for Mayo in the Connacht semifinal after their biggest win over Galway in over 100 years.
Dillon said, “It is not an issue at all. Our lads are well grounded from last September and we want to push on and be as good as we possibly can.
“Any first round game, they are always cagey. There is always that fear about where you are at and will you get the performance, and today we did.
“I have come to Salthill a few times before and barely got a breath and today was a bit different. If every championship game is as comfortable as that we will be happy but there will be tougher tests ahead.
“Roscommon will be very competitive and we have a lot of stuff to work on and we are looking forward to getting some lads back and really pushing forward.”
Mayo boss James Horan defended his forwards after they scored 4-16 to Galway’s 0-11 in Salthill.
Horan said, “I keep saying this, the championship, what we scored in it last year and again what we scored today, we’ve guys out there playing up front who are as good as anyone in the country.”
Fit again Dillon added, “It is a media-driven perception that is out there that we don’t punish teams as well as we should.
“We have some great footballers there, and a lot of our finishing has improved and in the league we racked up some big scores against quality opposition.
“We have a squad that can compete with anyone in the country and we will keep working at it.”
Shefflin to Miss Match
HENRY Shefflin has confirmed that he will miss Kilkenny’s Leinster SHC clash with Offaly in Tullamore next month, the first championship game he will have missed since his debut in 1999. Michael Fennelly is also an injury worry after he damaged ankle ligaments on club duty . . .
LEITRIM have withdrawn from the Lory Meagher Cup after opting not to undertake an expensive trip to play Warwickshire in England last weekend . . .
CARLOW were full value for a 10 point win over London in the Leinster Senior Championship on Saturday when Laois shocked a fancied Antrim side . . .
AIDAN Cassidy is a big doubt for Tyrone ahead of Sunday’s sold out Ulster SFC clash with Donegal in Ballybofey . . .
KILDARE midfielder Dermot Earley has announced his retirement from inter-county football . . .
EAMONN O’Hara has confirmed his retirement from the Sligo county squad after 19 years . . .
FORMER GAA president Paddy Buggy has died at the age of 84.