Louth Hurling manager Paul McCormack. Pic: Arthur Kinahan
LOUTH 0-19 CAVAN 2-12
In this his third year in charge of the Louth hurlers, manager Paul McCormack was aiming to achieve something that alluded him in those three years and that was two successive victories in a National League campaign.
There was never more than three points between these two well matched teams and in fact the sides were level both at half time and on the stroke of full time before Darren Geoghegan sealed the win in dramatic fashion from a difficult free.
Boosted by the victory over Leitrim a week earlier, the Armagh native opted to make two changes to his starting 15 with young Conor Quigley making his first start in defence and Seaghan Conneely taking over from Andrew Mackin at full forward.
However, it was Geoghegan who made all the headlines for the second week running as he improved on his nine points in Carrick on Shannon by accounting for an impressive tally of 13 points for his side in this exciting victory over Cavan in Darver last weekend.
Others deserving mention include Conneely who beat his marker to the high ball on numerous occasions, a strong feature to his game which set up many opportunities for his side while James Costello, Feidhelm Joyce, Ryan Walsh and Niall Keenan also impressed for the men in red.
Louth knew that the Breffni men would provide stiff opposition, having been pushed hard when they clashed in last year's Lory Meagher Cup where a two-point victory sent McCormack's men to Croke Park.
It was important that the home side got off to a good start playing with the advantage of the breeze, which was blowing down towards the scoreboard end of the ground.
The concession of an early free presented Cavan full forward Brian Fitzgerald with the opportunity to open the scoring with a point from a 66-metre free. From the resultant puck out David Kettle set up his captain Feidhelm Joyce to fire over a good equalising score.
A foul on Kettle saw Geoghegan firing over a lead point from a 20-metre free only for Fitzgerald to tie up matters again from a placed ball on seven minutes.
Louth capitalised on good possession over the next six minutes accounting for three successive points, the first a good score from the right wing by Paddy Lynch and a brace from Geoghegan, including one from play.
This good work accounted for nothing when Cavan grabbed the game’s opening goal on 15 minutes as corner forward Caoimhin Carney fired low and hard past keeper Donal Connolly from close range.
A pointed free from Geoghegan for a foul on James Costello had the Wee County leading by one at the water break 0-6 to 1-2.
Substitute Sean Kerrisk scored with his very first touch when he was picked out by his St Fechins colleague Paddy Lynch, raising the white flag from close range.
Having earned himself a free Brian Fitzgerald duly split the posts with ease to leave just one between them again on 22 minutes.
The sides shared the next two points before Paul Matthews caught a sideline ball from Paddy Lynch and rounded his marker to score a good point from 35 metres, making it 0-9 to 1-4.
On the stroke of half time Cavan struck back with a bang as Caoimhin Carney reacted first to the sliotar coming back off the right hand upright to fire home his second goal of the afternoon to put the visitors in front.
A pointed free from the right wing by Geoghegan saw the teams going into the dressing rooms at the break tied at 0-10 to 2-4.
The Naomh Moninne sharpshooter gave the home side the perfect start to the second half with another brace of pointed frees inside the opening six minutes.
Fitzgerald was not to be out done and he grabbed two himself, both from placed balls for the visitors, the second a long-range effort from inside his own half.
In between those two scores Geoghegan took his increasing tally to nine and his side's two-point advantage was restored by the hard-working James Costello from the left wing on 46 minutes.
A good score from the right wing by Philip Brady had Cavan trailing by just one at the second water break, 0-14 to 2-7.
Two more Geoghegan points in the space of 60 seconds saw his side go three clear, as the Louth management team loudly urged their charges on from the sideline.
Sean Keating and Sean Kerrisk exchanged points from play before Cavan began picking up the pace and accounted for three points in a row from Cillian Sheanon and Brian Fitzgerald (2) to tie up matters on 66 minutes 0-17 to 2-11.
Fitzgerald wasted a good opportunity to put his side in front and he would rue that miss as Geoghegan fired over one of the best scores of the match from way out on the right wing.
The Cavan playmaker made up for the miss when firing over his first point from play to leave the side's level for the sixth time of this entertaining encounter, as those of us lucky enough to be present waited for the fourth official to inform everyone what time would be added on.
Four minutes was the answer and certainly plenty of time for either team to find a winner from somewhere.
A chop down on substitute Darren O Hanrahan presented his Naomh Moninne club mate and name sake Geoghegan with the opportunity from out on the right wing beside the home team dugout.
He held his composure and nerve to split the posts with what would turn out to be the match winning point.
Cavan almost grabbed a third goal with the last act of play right at the death, but it was corner back Mattie Fee who intercepted the goal bound effort to seal the two points which sees them take another step towards possible promotion to Division 3A for next season.
Louth: Donal Connolly; Mattie Fee, Ronan Byrne, Andrew Smith; Ryan Walsh, Jamie McDonnell, Conor Quigley; Niall Keenan, Feidhelm Joyce (0-1); Darren Geoghegan (0-13, 11 frees), James Costello (0-1), Paddy Lynch (0-1); Paul Matthews (0-1), Seaghan Conneely, David Kettle. Subs - Andrew Mackin for D Kettle (11), Sean Kerrisk (0-2) for A Mackin (20), Darren O Hanrahan for P Lynch (50), Peter Fortune for J Mc Donnell (50), Thomas McCreesh for J Costello (63).
Cavan: Darren Sheridan; Neasan Neary, Dominic Crudden, Philip Brady (0-1); Anthony Sheridan (0-1), Enda Shalvey, Philip McCabe; Matthew Hynes, Fiachra Hughes; Bart Nannery, Diarmuid Carney, Kevin Conneely; Cillian Sheanon (0-1), Brian Fitzgerald (0-8, 7 frees), Caoimhin Carney (2-0). Subs - Sean Keating (0-1) for K Conneely (15), Freddie Williams for P McCabe (58), Sean McKeogh for A Sheridan (70), Darren Madden for B Nannery (70).
Referee: Gearoid McGrath (Wexford).
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