Updated Jun 12th 2021, 5:51 PM
2020 ULSTER CHAMPIONS Cavan have been relegated to Division 4 of the Allianz Football League after Wicklow eked out a two-point win at Páirc Tailteann.
In a straight shootout, the old cliché of goals win games proved key for Davy Burke’s Wicklow, who stay in Division 3 for the second year in-a-row.
Two second-half goals from Seanie Furlong, who was in sensational scoring form, and one in the first period courtesy of Patrick O’Connor, were crucial for the Garden county.
Mickey Graham’s Breffni side looked disjointed in a high-scoring, entertaining battle in Navan, which was seriously tense down the home straight — and now suffer their third consecutive relegation, a major blow ahead of their Ulster championship opener with Tyrone.
Wicklow came out all guns blazing with scores from Andy Maher and Mark Kenny putting it to the Ulster champions. They soon settled, with Conor Madden, Patrick Lynch (free) and Gearóid McKiernan among the early scorers to have them a point up – 0-4 to 0-3 – at the first water break.
Overall though, it was a poor first half from Cavan who dropped several balls short, and hit the post and the crossbar. Its big turning point came in the 31st minute when O’Connor rattled the net, and his side were in a 1-5 to 0-7 lead at half time.
Scores on the restart from Lynch and Thomas Galligan looked to be turning the tide, but the excellent Furlong ensured Wicklow were firmly back in the driving seat on 40 minutes, slotting home a goal with ease after a one-on-one situation.
Conor Byrne and Kevin Quinn kept Wicklow ticking over through a dominant third quarter, before Furlong scored a penalty, despite Raymond Galligan’s best efforts, with 50 on the clock to make it 3-7 to 0-10.
Five points down at the second water break, Cavan had a mountain to climb — and can only blame themselves for several missed chances. That said, Mark Jackson was excellent in the Wicklow goal, and scored a free at the other end as the clock ran down.
In what was an end-to-end finish, Christopher O’Brien and Furlong also scored for the eventual winners, while the Galligan cousins and substitute Oisin Pierson split the posts for Cavan, though the closest they got was within two points.
With bodies down all over the field, Wicklow held on for a massive result, and the scenes at the final whistle showed how much it meant.
Meanwhile, Shane McGuigan was the star as Derry defeated Limerick by four points in the Division 3 semi-final.
McGuigan scored six points in all – ably assisted by Benny Heron as Derry turned on the style in the second half, after taking a one-point lead into the half-time break.
Between them McGuigan and Herron contributed nine points with valuable contributions coming from Niall Loughlin and Niall Toner – who got two points each – plus Conor Doherty, Paul Cassidy, Ciaran McFaul and Paul O’Neill who got a point each as Derry won 0-17 to 0-13.
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Meanwhile, Louth have won promotion to Division 3 after they comprehensively defeated Carlow in today’s Division 4 semi-final, outscoring their Leinster rivals, 1-23 to 1-15.
Most of the damage was done in the first half – Conor Grimes getting the Louth goal, as they led by eight points, 1-12 to 0-7 at the break.
Key to their victory was their range of scorers, Grimes reappearing to score a fine point after the break while Sam Mulroy kept the scoreboard ticking over. Eoghan Callaghan, Liam Jackson, Declan Byrne, Ciaran Byrne and Ciaran Downey also impressed for Mickey Harte’s side.
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