In what was essentially a quarter final, Monaghan did all that was asked of them as they qualified for the senior football semifinals with a six point win. In a game that was in desperate need of a player to grasp a hold of it to liven it up, (Paul O’Hara made a good effort) Cavan scored two points in each half as they season ended with a whimper.
It is always tough for the footballers to follow a hurling contest and hold the interest of the viewers and on this occasion they didn’t. It was 0-5 to 0-2 at the interval with Cavan getting a Darren Moore point after three minutes and a second from Brian Thornton after 16.
They were that inept in front of goal. Monaghan had the lead after 30 seconds from the foot of Kevin Smith, his midfield partner Kevin Connolly had three points in the first half, two of which came from long range frees. Paul McArdle had the remaining score.
It was strictly a half that was dominated by the defenses. Mike O’Regan in his second game of the day was giving nothing easy to Conor Harrison.
Sean Jones had to chat to both when they got a little too close to each other for comfort. His defensive compatriots Paul Lambe and Fergal Malone were also doing excellent work and they were bursting out with ball in hand continually.
Granted Cavan were also doing well in front of their own goal with McGinley, Shane Hogan and Gavin Joyce all strong. Monaghan added two of the first three points of the second half as they put 12 bodies behind the ball when Cavan attacked and they used quick breaks to try and create scoring moves.
Both of the winner’s scores came from defenders, Kelly and Lambe, a telling tale. It was Brian Thornton again, who had the Cavan score but it came a full 28 minutes after their last. James Connolly added an eight score for the winners with seven minutes left, preceding Cavan’s last score by a minute.
Paul O’Hara had a point from play and then set up Ross McKenna for the final score of the afternoon.
Monaghan’s practice of putting 12 men behind the ball makes them a hard team to score upon. Although on this occasion if Cavan had Martin Dunne and Eugene Keating in their attack, it would probably have ended up the same. It was just that sort of day for the blues.
For the winners, Lambe, Kelly, O’Regan, and Kevin Smith all excelled -- ironically all former Cavan players. Emmitt Caulfield was a roving player and did well at the job; Paul O’Hara was excellent off the bench, with James Connolly having a good second half.
Cavan will be happy with the performances of Ronan McGinley, Fergal Ellis and Michael Hallassy in patches, but that was about it for accolades.
Cavan: 1 Gavin Joyce, 2 Ronan McGinley, 3 Ciaran Shields, 4 Shane Hogan, 5 Conor Hogan, 6 Liam Fleming, 7 Fergal Ellis, 8 Mike O’Reilly, 9 Mike Hallassy, 10 Richie Morgan, 11 Sean Dalton (0-1), 12 Tommy Warburton, 13 Brian Thornton (0-2), 14 Conor Harrison, 15 Darren Moore (0-1).
Monaghan: 1 Alan Hearty, 2 Paul Lambe (0-1), 3 Mike O’Regan, 4 Fergal Malone, 5 Paul Farhan, 6 Sean Kelly (0-1), 7 Fergal McPhilips, 8 Kevin Smith (0-1), 9 Kevin Connolly (0-3), 10 Caoimhin O’Callaghan, 11 James Connolly (0-1), 12 Ross McKenna (0-1), 13 Dave Harvey, 14 Paul McArdle (0-1), 15 Emmitt Caulfield. Subs: Liam Deane, Bonnie Duffy, Paul O’Hara (0-1).
Man of the match: Paul Lambe (Monaghan).
Referee: Sean Jones.