Down start with an away win at Breffni Park

January 8, 2013

Down opened their 2013 competitive season with an away win at Kingspan Breffni Park, with a two point victory over an experienced Cavan side which contained just one debutant, Oisin Minagh.

A fourth minute goal from Paul McComiskey gave the Mourne men a dream start. After Danny Savage had shot a third minute wide Down took possession from the resultant kick out through Conor Garvey who passed to Aidan Carr and onto Connaire Harrison who slipped in McComiskey and from the edge of the large square the recently returned Down marksman fired to the top corner of the net.

Adventurous corner-back Ryan Boyle soon added a point from play and Down looked well in control.

Darren O’Hagan almost got in for a goal chance but Aidan Carr’s thirty yard diagonal pass just skidded away on the wet surface.

Though midfielder Gearoid McKernan pointed for Cavan in the ninth minute, it was but a momentary blip as the Down men fired over the next two scores to lead 1-3 to 0-1 after fourteen minutes.

Down were taking quick frees and moving the ball forward accurately at most opportunities and in Connaire Harrison had the perfect target man. With the Cavan defence prone to fouling the Down full forward, Danny Savage pointed a close in free right in front of the posts and Harrison shook off his marker to catch the next delivery and point himself.

Down had other chances too but carried the ball into tackles which suited the rugged homeside and lost possession, in fact Down went sixteen minutes to their next score.

During that time Cavan came more into the match, twice Down lost the ball on the centre field line and on both occasions Cavan counter attacked to good effect with Martin Dunne pointing from placed ball and from play.

They had other chances but patches of good play from Dan McCartan and Benny McArdle denied them and novice keeper Michael Cunningham dealt confidently with what ball did get through to him.

A strong solo run from Cian Mackey and clever off load to Gearoid McKernan presented the big midfielder with his second point and by the twenty ninth minute another Dunne free had reduced the deficit to the minimum.

Down then came back into the match with an inspired score from Benny Coulter after good play from Savage, and Harrison proved his worth with a second point getting in on the end of an Aidan Carr free to make an angle and chip over the score.

A goal ahead three minutes from the break, Down could neither press on nor hold out to half-time.

Gearoid McKernan and Tomas Corr again began to dominate around the middle and McKernan shot his third point from play with Martin Dunne finding too much space, to pop over twice and send the teams in level, 1-5 to 0-8.

Cavan continued in similar style on the restart but shot two poor wides before Dunne struck for his sixth point after a quickly taken Mark McKeever free and Down, who were hanging on, received a let off when Dunne and McKernan combined to open the Mourne defence but McKernan’ fierce shot rebounded off the bar and away to safety.

Cavan were unable to transfer this period of superiority onto the score board and Down hung on, with both sides missing chances, Paul McComiskey hastily wide with a good chance after an incisive Down counter attack, before Benny Coulter cut in from the left and levelled matters in the forty seventh minute.

Martin Dunne, who else, fisted Cavan in front before Ryan Kelly from rare possession equalized and the result was very much in the balance going into the final quarter.

Down substitutes Conor Laverty and Liam Doyle combined for Doyle to kick Down back in front and they were both involved again moments later when Down opened a two point gap. Paul McComiskey played a key role in the score dropping back to his own twenty metre line to get possession and beginning a four man move which ended with Harrison’s third score from play.

Dunne replied at the other end, out in front to take the ball and with time to turn and pick his point but Down were ending the match strongly, and second points from Doyle and Kelly made it 1-11 to 0-11 with five minutes to play.

Cavan owned possession in the closing stages but Down tackled and chased every ball and limited them to half chances with some heroic defending from all the players and the homeside managed only Dunnes ninth point, his third from a free, in added time as the Mourne men held out for a deserved victory.

Down: Michael Cunningham; Daniel McCartan, Benny McArdle, Ryan Boyle 0-1; Conor Garvey, Gerard McAnulty, Darren O’Hagan; Kalum King, Kevin McKernan; Danny Savage 0-1, Aidan Carr, Peter Turley; Paul McComiskey 1-0, Connaire Harrison 0-3, Ryan Kelly 0-2.

Subs: Benny Coulter 0-2 for Garvey, Liam Doyle 0-2 for Carr, Conor Laverty for Savage, Owen Costello for Turley, Aidan Carr for King.

Cavan: Alan O’Mara; Oisin Minagh, John McCutcheon, Killian Brady; Padraig Reilly, Alan Clarke, Damien O’Reilly; Tomas Corr, Gearoid McKiernan 0-3; Cian Mackey, Niall McDermott, Mark McKeever; Kevin Meehan, Declan McKiernan, Martin Dunne 0-9.

Subs: Niall Murray for Meehan, Oisin O’Connell for Murray, Michael Brady for McCutcheon.