GAA round-up: Cavan shock wasteful Mayo
Mayo footballers have been hit by a new curse – a GAA version of the Ides of March.
Notorious in Roman history as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar, last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists would be forgiven for believing they have contracted its GAA equivalent.
A second successive defeat in the Allianz Football League and a second home loss in 2017 leaves Stephen Rochford’s side clinging to their Division 1 status.
Even though they have failed to secure the Sam Maguire they have played in the top flight of the league in more consecutive seasons than any other county.
Now though, they are in real danger of ending up in Division 2 after a shock loss to Cavan.
Having garnered just one point from their previous four contests, Mattie McGleenan’s side would have been relegated had they lost.
The contest followed its predicted script in the first half as Mayo, inspired by midfielder Danny Kirby who kicked three first-half points, surged into a 0-9 to 0-5 advantage.
But on the stroke of half time the game took a decisive turn when Gearoid McKiernan scored a crucial goal for the visitors to leave them trailing by just a point at the break (0-9; 1-5).
While Mayo extended their slender lead early in the second half, for most of the period they played second fiddle to the Ulster side. Tactically, Mayo were completely outmaneuvered in a thrilling, open contest.
Once they surrendered possession Cavan pulled every player behind the ball and set up what proved an impregnable defensive wall on their 45m line.
Despite their experience Mayo failed utterly to deal with it; worse still they persisted with a short kick out, thus enabling the Cavan players to scamper back and get into position.
Repeatedly, Mayo players were caught in possession as Cavan turned over the ball, raced up-field and scored.
Two sweetly struck long-range points from Player of the Year Lee Keegan looked to have rescued Mayo but Cavan were relentless, kept their heads and didn’t concede any frees within their D.
Late points from Dara McVeety and substitute John Cutcheon earned them a historic first win since they were promoted to the top flight.
Worryingly for Mayo, Cillian O’Connor, so long their savior, failed to make any impact in the second half and worse still was off target with three albeit difficult placed kicks.
Even though Mayo are one point ahead of Cavan in the League table their last two games are against Tyrone (away) and Donegal (home).
While Cavan host Kerry next Sunday their last game is away to Roscommon who will be relegated by then unless they beat Dublin next Saturday night in Croke Park.
Roscommon’s seven-point loss to Monaghan in Inniskeen probably sealed their fate whereas Monaghan – whose two remaining matches are against Donegal (a) and Dublin (h) are now joint top with Dublin and Donegal.
Match of the day in Division 2 saw Meath come from nine points down to snatch a draw with Cork in Páirc Ui Rinn.
Donal Lenihan’s 74th minute free earned them a share of the spoils though ironically, the two sides remain mired near the foot of the table.
Fermanagh’s shock win over Clare has altered the shape of the relegation battle. Derry’s loss to Galway means they are now propping up the table on three points, while Fermanagh, Cork and Down have all four points. Kildare and Galway remain favourites to be promoted.
Louth surrendered their one hundred per cent record in Division 3 at home to next-door neighbours Armagh who hammered them by 14 points despite having Aidan Forker red carded in the opening minutes.
Kieran McGeeney’s side remain in third spot as Tipperary – courtesy of a laboured win over bottom-of-the-table Offaly – join Louth at the top of the table.
Wexford, meanwhile, are the first team to be promoted. They came from three points down at half time against London to make it five wins on the spin and they cannot be caught by third placed Carlow.
Westmeath – who beat Wicklow – are virtually certain to join them in Division 3 next season, needing just one point from their last two games to guarantee themselves promotion.
Allianz FL Division 1
Mayo 0-15 Cavan 1-14
Monaghan 2-17 Roscommon 1-13
Allianz FL Division 2
Cork 0-18 Meath 1-15
Fermanagh 0-18 Clare 1-10
Galway 5-15 Derry 2-15
Allianz FL Division 3
Longford 0-16 Sligo 2-7
Louth 0-10 Armagh 3-15
Offaly 2-11 Tipperary 2-15
Antrim 1-10 Laois 0-11
Allianz FL Division 4
Wexford 0-15 London 0-09
Limerick 2-11 Leitrim 0-15
Westmeath 0-19 Wicklow 0-14