Kieran Traynor’s goal keeping skills were tested immediately as he was forced into a full body dive to keep out Paddy McNamee’s shot. Eric Bradley and Jarreth Smith traded points as the game evolved into a seesaw mode. Then Paddy Smith pushed Cavan ahead with a goal and Ronan Garvey was uncharacteristically wide from a close in free. Clare came right back as the very mobile Eric Bradley finished a combination move with Ronan Garvey to the net.
However, Cavan were having the better of exchanges as points by Jarreth Smith, Ryan McCormack opened up a three point lead. Then the tenacious Martin Slowey joined the game in place of Shay Furlong. Clare battled back and narrowed the gap to a point with scores from Mike Keaveney and Paddy McNamee, but Smith replied with a great long-range effort. Then, just before halftime, Eric Bradley struck for his second major score to put Clare ahead by 2-4 to 1-6.
The tit for tat nature of the game continued in the second half as Mike Keaveney and Jarreth Smith traded scores. Perhaps the most decisive move of the game was the quality of the players Cavan sprang from the bench. John Paul Smith, Shane Russell and Paul Brogan all played vital roles.
Still, Mickey Slowey kept Clare ahead with a free while Paddy Smith replied with a superb score from near the corner flag. Cavan had a major let off after a Slowey skyscraper shot was fielded by Ronan Garvey and crashed against the crossbar. Ryan McCormack tied up, before Keaveney punished a foul on Eric Bradley to push Clare ahead. But McCormack brought the game back to parity at the halfway stage before Michael Hogan soloed through to give Clare the lead once again as bodies lay strewn in his wake. But Cavan came right back with a Smith score. With ten minutes left, the game took on a frenetic tone as both teams strove to break the deadlock. John Paul Smith gave Cavan the lead and they never relinquished it. Three further points followed, two by John Paul and the other by Smith to leave them ahead by four at the final whistle. This was a highly exciting and very competitive game with Cavan prevailing in the end principally due the contribution from their bench at a crucial juncture in the game, in particular Shane Russell. He certainly made his presence felt.
Cavan: Kieran Traynor, Steven Delaney, Paul Crossan, Thomas Pierce, James McIntyre, David Rooney, Dennis McCarthy, Sean Lordan, Cormac Kelly, Colm Shannon, Jarreth Smith (0-5), Alan Carolan, Paddy Smith (1-2), Ryan McCormack, (0-4), Fergal Shannon (0-1).
Subs: John Paul Smith (0-4), Shan Russell (0-1), Paul Brogan.
Clare: Conor Loughnane, Shay Furlong, Marty Meehan, Owen Loughnane, Paul O’Connor, Kevin Newell, Rory Sweeney, Jason Killeen, Eric Bradley (2-2), Mike Keaveney (0-3), Mickey Slowey (0-1), Michael Hogan (0-1), Richie Keane, Ronan Garvey, Paddy McNamee (0-1).
Sub: Joe Egan, Gary Dowd, John Hogan, Martin Slowey.