Sean Paul Smith opened the scoring only 40 seconds after referee John Fitzpatrick’s throw-in, but despite the promising start, this would not develop into a shoot out. Hard hitting defensive play led to scattershot shooting and passing on both sides with the best of the action away from the goal.
Midfielder Hughie O’Sullivan was in the thick of it for Monaghan, while Sean Maguire and Shane Russell were battling for that vital sector for Cavan. Shane McInerney accounted for all of Monaghan’s first half total of 1-2, with two frees and an alert rebounded goal, pouncing after Brian Carolan stopped Hughie O’Sullivan’s initial volley.
Monaghan came out determined to upend the more heavily fancied Cavan side at the start of the second half. O’Sullivan notched a first-minute point for Monaghan and then substitute Barry McCabe fed Keith Mahon, who drew a foul. McInerney pointed the free and moments later the same player pointed another free and Monaghan had their first and, as it turned out, only lead.
McPartland then took advantage of some confusion in the Monaghan defense. A minor dustup distracted some of the players, but McPartland kept to his task and accepted a Brian Newman pass and struck it in the back of the Monaghan net. McPartland’s three-pointer put Cavan ahead 2-4 to 1-5.
Only two points separated the sides, but it was a gap that Monaghan would be unable to bridge in the remaining 17 minutes. A J.P. Smith free extended Cavan’s lead to a goal. Monaghan would get no closer. The rest of the way was tit for tat and Cavan continue their push toward the playoffs.
Man of the Match: Noel McPartland
Cavan: Brian Carolan, Eugene O’Hagan, Darren Rabbitte, Nobby Smith, Francis Sheridan, Dave Calloghan, Barry Annette, Sean Maguire (0-1), Shane Russell (0-1), Alan Carolan, Sean Paul Smith (0-3, all frees), Andy McEvoy, John Smith (0-1), Brian Newman (0-1), Noel McPartland (2-1). Sub: Gary McDermott.
Monaghan: James McSweeney, Garreth Duffy, Paul Rushe, Bernard Treanor, Niall Trevor, Eddie Greenan, Jamie Shaw, Hughie O’Sullivan (0-1), Ruari O’Neill, Paddy Skeath, Keith Mahon, Mark Dobbin, Nestor Allen, Shane McInerney (1-6, 4 frees), Sean Carbin. Sub: Dan Scott, Peter McConnell (0-1).