Under the managerial reigns of Glencolumbkille native, Cormac O’Gara, Scotland’s county team came up short against Cavan in Saturday evening’s All-Ireland Junior semi-final game in Edinburgh.
The former Naomh Columba man who juggles his management responsibilities with reigning Scottish champions Dunedin Connolly’s from Edinburgh had already led his team to an All-Britain success this season but in truth, facing the experience of Terry Hyland’s Cavan would prove to be a bridge too far for them at this point.
The Breffni County could field numerous players who have tasted great success at U-21 level - where they have dominated Ulster in recent seasons - and it was they would have the better of the opening exchanges on Saturday when they sprang into an early three point lead.
Scotland could count themselves as being immensely unfortunate not to have drawn level in the tenth minute as Damien Keane saw his goalbound shot superbly well saved by Cavan goalkeeper, James Farrelly. The Ulster-based Leinster champions would show no mercy however and they would soon extend their lead to a margin of five.
O’Gara opted to reshuffle the pack and introduced Séan Malee for Eamonn McCann after 23 minutes.
Malee proved himself to be a troublesome force and won a series of frees. Perhaps nerved by the occasion, none of these frees were converted and the interval scoreline read 0-10 to 0-2 in favour of the visitors.
Following the restart, the hosts sought to find a way back into the game and did so briefly with scores from Sligo-born, Brian McAteer and Galway-native, Tony Gallagher.
Cavan’s focus would not be wilted by this however as they began to score a series of points themselves; the pick of which came from Paul O’Connor after he was brilliantly assisted by a purposeful charge up the field by corner-back, Fergal Reilly.
As the game began to diminish as a contest, Cavan would throw salt in the wounds of Scotland once more when Enda Reilly’s late goal sealed the deal for Cavan. A goal which Martin Hannah was helpless to stop, despite making two wonderful saves earlier in the game.
Cavan now look forward to a place in the All-Ireland Junior Final against Kerry and can rightly go into that game with a real sense of belief that they could go all the way.
Despite their loss, O’Gara can be proud of the efforts he and his side have put in this year.
Scotland: Martin Hannah (Tyrone – Cookstown Fr Rocks); Ronan McGurk (Tyrone – Ardboe), Mark Whelan (Kildare – Round Towers), Cian Lowney Cian Lowney (Cork – Eire Og); Joe Crean (Roscommon – Tulsk Lord Edwards), Patrick Tobin (Cork – Douglas), John Dolan (Sligo – Coolera Strandhill); Brian McAteer ((Sligo – Drumcliff Rosses Point - 0-1, 1f), Robbie Howe; Eamonn McCann (Kildare – Naas), Alan Ward (Roscommon – Ballinameen - 0-3, 2f), Paul Cribbin (Antrim – St John’s); Enda Lyons (Clare – St Joseph’s Doora Barefield), Tony Gallagher (Galway – Caherlistrane - 0-1), Damien Keane (Mayo – Westport). Subs: Séan Malee (Mayo – Kiltimagh - 0-1) for McCann (24), aron Moore (Laois – St Joseph’s) for Crean (52).
Cavan: James Farelly; Damien Barkley, James Morris, Fergal Reilly; Ciaran Brady, Brian Sankey, Paul Smith (0-3); Liam Buchannan, Packie Leddy (0-1); Niall Smith (Niall Clerkin, 0-1), Chris Conroy, Enda Reilly (1-5, 3f); Tom Hayes (0-1), Enda Hessin (0-3), Paul O’Connor (0-2). Subs: Thomas Moore for Hayes (46), Barry Doyle for Hessin (51), Fergal Smith for Damien Barkey (53), Ciaran Caffrey for Conrory (53), Niall Clerkin (0-1) for Smith (56).
Referee: Paddy Neylon (Roscommon).