Cavan emerged victorious in the John Joe Cassidy seven-a-side as they had little trouble accounting for Westmeath in a one-sided final at Gaelic Park on Sunday.
In a day that started shortly after noon and finished before 5:30, the sides had to be off the field before 6 p.m. as Manhattan College was due to take the field.
There were 10 teams in the competition named in recognition of Mr. Cassidy, who won three All-Ireland medals in the Breffni Blue colors -- Cavan, Westmeath, Leitrim, Monaghan, Connemara Gaels (Boston), Wolfe Tones (Boston), Kerry, Celtics, Longford and Rockland.
Group One results were Wolfe Tones 2-8 Kerry 2-4; Cavan 4-9 Rockland 1-7; Westmeath 3-7 Kerry 0-8; Wolfe Tones 4-8 Rockland 2-4; Cavan 6-8 Westmeath 1-12; Kerry 5-3 Rockland 5-3; Cavan 4-7 Wolfe Tones 2-3; Westmeath 2-8 Rockland 0-3; Kerry 4-6 Cavan 2-8; Westmeath 2-7 Wolfe Tones 2-5.
Group Two results were Connemara Gaels 3-5 Longford 0-9; Leitrim 1-10 Monaghan 0-11; Connemara Gaels 2-6 Celtics 1-6; Leitrim 2-8 Longford 0-8; Monaghan 4-7 Celtics 0-5; Leitrim 0-12 Connemara Gaels 1-3; Monaghan 3-6 Longford 2-6; Leitrim 5-13 Celtics 1-4; Monaghan 2-7 Connemara Gaels 1-9; Longford 2-8 Celtics 1-5.
Leitrim were the clear leader in Group Two as their new arrivals all performed very well in the early stages. Nicky Joyce showed very well but missed the semifinal due to injury while Paddy Kelly also missed the playoffs; both proved to be pivotal losses.
The game between Monaghan and Connemara Gaels went down to the last kick of the contest, with Mike O’Regan driving over the winner after Caoimhin O’Callaghan was fouled.
In Group One Cavan were coasting with big victories but came unstuck against Kerry in their final group game. It didn’t matter, however, as earlier results had quelled any future involvement for the Kingdom.
The final group game in the first division was akin to a quarterfinal as the winner of the Westmeath/Wolfe Tones battle moved forward. It was to be the midlanders as they used excellent play by Conor Lynam and Darren Moore to advance.
The Tones did have the distinction of having the first player black carded in New York as Brian Glynn – yes, Brian the New York hurler, who hails from Ardrahan and has a brother on the Galway side across the pond -- was given one by Alan Hearty. He was a guest player for the Boston side but will go down in the annals of New York GAA for representing his adopted county in Ireland last year and also creating history with the large ball!
Westmeath qualified for the final after a 2-14 to 3-9 victory over Leitrim. They trailed at the break by 2-5 to 0-7 with Ronan O’Flaherty and Eoghan Carew grapping the goals. Two second half goals from Conor Lynam paved the way for success.
Leitrim did have a third goal again from O’Flaherty alongside points from the Faheys, but three Jeff Farrell points helped the winners to advance 2-14 to 3-9.
Cavan advanced to meet them with a 2-17 to 1-9 victory over Monaghan. It was a tale of two halves. however. They had a slim three-point lead at the interval and were fortunate to still have Eoin Ward on the field as he was very lucky to escape with a stern talking too alongside O’Callaghan after a harsh Ward tackle on the Monaghan defender. It may have been a black card on another day.
O’Callaghan received a straight red for a strike on the same player with just four minutes gone in the second half and Cavan ahead 1-10 to 1-6. The numerical disadvantage proved to be too much for Monaghan to overcome and Cavan breezed to a 2-17 to 1-9, win with Ronan McGinley getting the second goal from distance as he stroked the ball to an empty net.
The defeated Leitrim and Monaghan panels were as follows – Leitrim: Conor Skeffington, Mike Creegan, Ronan O’Flaherty, Cian Maher, Brain Connor, Ciaran Hughes, Keith Quinn, Dan Doona, Peter Fahey, Brian Fahey, Andy Gray, Eoghan Carew.
Monaghan: Kevin Connolly, Paul Lambe, Sean Kelly, Paul Farney, Caoimhin O’Callaghan, Michael O’Regan, Padraig Graham, Liam Deane, Michael McBrian, Rory Molloy, Tony McGeeney,
In the final Cavan had a goal from MVP Ward after 20 seconds and they never looked back. Westmeath did reply with points from Moore with a sublime kick from the sideline and a Lynam free, but a further goal from Ward and a net shaker from Michael Hallessy with five minutes gone extended their lead to 3-2 to 0-4 and put the Breffni men in a commanding lead.
Three goals before the break sealed the win, with an advancing Joyce annexing the third. After a James Stones point opened the second half for Westmeath, Cavan scored at ease with Morgan getting the seventh goal while Sean Dalton snatched the eighth.
On the strength of six excellent performances Ward was awarded MVP for the day.
Cavan: Gavin Joyce (1-0), Ronan McGinley (0-1), Michael Hallessy (2-0), Eoin Ward (2-1), Michael Reilly, Conor Hogan (0-2), Richie Morgan (1-2), Brian Thornton (1-1), Sean Dalton (1-1), Tommy Warburton (0-1), Brian Ellis.
Westmeath: Ray Coyle, Jeff Farrell, James Stones (0-1), Gary Moore (0-1), Darren Moore (0-1), Conor Moore, Darren Walsh, Conor Lynam (0-2), Darren McDermott, Shane Hogan.