By Peter Nolan
Stamford’s footballers left Gaelic Park shaking their heads and muttering to themselves after letting Cavan steal a Senior A victory on Sunday at Gaelic Park.
Stamford had the better of the play for long periods in each half, particularly in the second, when Cavan needed 24 minutes to register their first score. It was Cavan that scored the first point of the match, via John Fagan 20 seconds from the opening throw in. Stamford quickly got it back when Peter Quillinan attacked from his wingback spot and fired over a great score.
Stamford had the better of things for the next 20 minutes with the half forward line of Fergal O’Neill and his wingmen, Stephen Owens and Ronan Mooney, were especially dangerous looking. But Stamford watched too many shots drift harmlessly wide and never extended their first-half lead beyond 0-6 to 0-3.
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Cavan, to their credit, made the most of far less opportunities. Three points from Declan Martin frees plus a very good point from center forward Sean McGuire pulled Cavan level going into the break at 0-7 a piece.
Neither side broke quickly at the restart, but eventually Stamford got rolling. Corner forward Padraig Gravin pointed after 5:30, sparking a 0-5 Cavan run. As in the first half, it should have been more. Also like the first half, Cavan would come back, this time all the way back.
Declan Martin hit frees in the 24th and 26th minute, before Paddy Sloan banged home a great goal to equalize. Suddenly Stamford, who had dominated the opening 20 minutes of the half found themselves all tied up. Then just as suddenly, they were behind as Sloan, now driving Cavan’s comeback from midfield, walloped over a huge point.
Substitute Liam McGuire tacked on another as desperate Stamford tried to regroup. The Connecticut club launched ball after ball into the Cavan goalmouth, but the Breffni men barred the door as Stamford could manage only a consolation point from Jason Killeen.
Cavan were thrilled to escape with the two points and they celebrated their comeback on the field afterward. For Stamford supporters it was surely a long trip back up the Thruway, but they will realize that they had their chances.
Man of the Match: Paddy Sloan.
Cavan: James Carolan, Eugene O’Hagan, John Clarke, Barney Brady, Francie Sheridan, Paddy Sloan (1-1), James Smith, Paul Galligan, Gary McDermott, Paddy Smyth, Sean McGuire (0-1), Declan Martin (0-5 all frees), Shane Russell, Ciaran Fern (0-1), John Fagan (0-2).
Stamford: Paddy Donohue, Justin O’Halloran, Kevin Newell, Phil Wickham, Peter Quillinan (0-1), Richie Purcell, Darren Doherty, Eric Bradley, Jason Killeen (0-1), Stephen Owens (0-1), Fergal O’Neill (0-2), Ronan Mooney (0-3), Padraig Gravin (0-3, 2 frees), Spike Martin (0-1), Shane O’Mahoney (0-1).