By Daire Walsh
Near-rivals Cavan and Monaghan will have to do it all again in a couple of weeks time after an injury-time goal from substitute Aoishe O’Reilly meant that Colm McEvoy’s side will live to fight another day after a compelling encounter with the Farney county in Donaghmore/Ashbourne on Sunday afternoon.
There was a peculiar feature to this game, as a clash of colours on both sides (Cavan and Monaghan both wear blue and white predominantly) meant that Cavan had to wear the Westmeath jerseys of maroon & white, while Monaghan had to tog out in the black & red of Down. While this was a little strange at first, it nevertheless did save the confusion that would have been there if they had stayed in the same jerseys.
Cavan were very impressive in their semi-final win over Kildare and, much like in their win over The Lilywhites, the Breffni girls had a great start to this match, as they raced into a five point lead after 18 minutes. The scores during this period came courtesy of a brace from full-forward Marie Brady and Castletara’s Majella Prior, and one from pacy wing-forward Roisin O’Keeffe.
Cavan were well on top in terms of possession during this period, and they could have been even further in front if their radar had been slightly sharper. Monaghan, on the other hand, were struggling to create too many openings, with their only opportunity during the first twenty minutes being a missed ’45’ by Marie Greenan.
They did eventually opened their account on 25 minutes however, when midfielder Siobhan McKenna of Truagh split the posts from a tight angle on the right. A third Marie Brady free did cancel out this score just a minute later, but Monaghan finished the half well with points from Shauna Finnegan and Siobhan McKenna leaving Cavan with a 0-6 to 0-3 lead at the mid-way interval.
Given the amount of play that Cavan had during the opening period, there would probably have been a slight disappointment on their part that they weren’t further ahead and, with Monaghan growing in confidence towards the end of the half, the tie was still very much alive.
The second half was a very scrappy affair initially though, and it wasn’t until the 37th minute that the next score came, with a 30 metre free by Monaghan centre-forward Marie Greenan reducing the margin to two. Scoring would continue to be hard to come by, though the next point did also fall the way of Monaghan, as the excellent Siobhan McKenna knocked over her third point of the afternoon.
Marie Brady and Greenan would then go on to swap points, before the tie was thrown wide open on 47 minutes when Finnegan pulled to the back of the net after Karen Boyle’s shot from 25 metre had been batted out by Cavan’s Geraldine Reilly.
This was the first time that Monaghan led in the match, and when corner-forward Eileen McElroy expertly converted a ’45’ with six minutes remaining, Cavan suddenly found themselves trailing by a goal heading into the home stretch.
Give credit to Cavan though, as they never let their heads drop at any point, although it was looking like they might come up just short in the end. Late
Lacken’s Marie Brady did have a chance from a ’45’ to win the game for Cavan, and O’Reilly went extremely close to getting a second goal just moments before that. In hindsight though, a draw was probably a fair result overall and, on the basis of this game, the replay between these two sides will be wide open.
Cavan: Geraldine Reilly; Sinead Brady, Niamh Brady, Jenny O’Rourke; Carmel McBride, Sinead Coyle, Rosie Crowe; Andrea Lynch, Josephine Maguire; Majella Prior (0-2, 2 ’45’), Lorraine Day, Roisin O’Keeffe (0-1); Sinead McKenna, Marie Brady (0-4, 3f), Brid Boylan.
SUBS: Mairead McCabe for McKenna (h/t); Siobhan Reynolds for McBride (37); Maria Murphy for Maguire (55); Aoishe O’Reilly (1-0) for Prior.
Monaghan: Roisin McKenna; Mary Meehan, Sharon McQuillan, Joanne McSkeane; Edel Kieran, Angela Kerr, Isobel Kieran; Siobhan McKenna (0-3), Eleanor McQuaid; Karen Boyle, Marie Greenan (0-2, 2f), Shauna Finnegan (1-1); Rosita Finnegan, Catherine Tomany, Eileen McElroy (0-1, ’45’).
SUBS: Orla Sheerin for Boyle (h/t); Boyle for Tomany (47).
Referee: Gerry McGough (Dublin).