Cavan ......... 1 -14
CAVAN caused the shock of the weekend in the National Football League when they returned from MacHale Park, Castlebar with the scalp of Mayo and two precious league points - and deservedly so it has to be said.
The win - their first in the league - could yet save their bacon but the defeat now casts a long shadow over Mayo’s Division 1 status which is now less than secure after this their second home defeat having lost their opening game against Monaghan.
What Mayo supporters wanted to see was Mayo bounce back after that hammering against Dublin but this was the kind of performance which does not engender any huge confidence ahead of two more tough assignments down the road.
The script seemed to be going to plan when Mayo bored holes in Cavan’s blanket defence in the first half to go four points clear as the game went into injury-time.
Danny Kirby with 0-3, Andy Moran with a brace and another brace from Conor O’Shea had Mayo ticking over nicely.
But they were rocked by a bolt from the blue just before the half-time whistle when a long ball caused problems in the Mayo
defence and it was midfielder, Gearoid McKiernan, who fired a rocket past David Clarke for a splendid goal to leave Cavan trailing by just a point - 0-9 to 1-5.
The sides traded points in the opening minutes of the second half as Cavan decided to have a go at Mayo and the yawning gap down the middle of the pitch was encouraging the visitors to drive forward at every opportunity as both Kirby and Tom Parsons began to wilt around the middle of the pitch.
The momentum was with Cavan who kicked two points clear at one stage but when Mayo needed a leader, Lee Keegan stepped up to the plate to kick two stunning back-to-back points from distance and edge his side ahead by one - 0-14 to 1-10.
That lead was short-lived as Tomás Corr tied the game but substitute Shane Nally kicked Mayo in front again as they led by 0-15 to 1-11 with 11 minutes remaining.
It was Mayo’s last score as Cavan sensed they had the home side under pressure and from once McKiernan tied the game with a huge free, it was clear that Cavan were not leaving MacHale Park without something to show for their greater hunger and industry.
They sealed this game with two late points from Dara McVeety and substitute John McCutchen, McVeety also finding the net only for the referee to rule out the score for what seemed to be a Seamus Darby-like push on Colm Boyle.
Mayo can have few complaints on a day when Cillian O’Connor failed to get on the scoresheet, two ‘45s drifting wide, but more worrying for Mayo now is two tough games before the final points tally takes shape as they face Tyrone next Sunday in Omagh Donegal the following Sunday at MacHale Park.
At least their fate remains in their own hands but few saw this defeat coming as Cavan have put a rather nasty fly in Mayo’s National League ointment.
Mayo: D. Clarke, B, Harrison, K. Higgins, P. Durcan, C. Boyle, L. Keegan (0-2), D. Vaughan, T. Parsons (0-1), D. Kirby (0-4), F. Boland (0-1), C. O’Connor, C. O’Shea (0-2), K. McLoughlin (0-1, 1f), A. Moran (0-3), C. Loftus.
Subs used: S. Coen for Vaughan (50), S. Nally (0-1) for Boland (55), E. Regan for C. Loftus (64), N. Douglas for C. O’Shea (66), J. Gibbons for Parsons (70).
Cavan: R. Galligan, K. Brady, R. Dunne (0-1), F. Reilly, G. Smith, K. Clarke, C. Moynagh, G. McKiernan (1-5, 3f), T. Corr (0-2), M. Reilly (0-1), D. McVeety (0-3), N. Clerkin, N. Murray, C. Madden (0-1), S. Johnston.
Subs used: C. Mackey for Jonson for (43), J. McCutchen (0-1 for C. Madden (63), P. O’Connor for Corr (67), C. Brady for Clerkin (68).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).