Sligo end up three short in gripping Tailteann Cup semi final

Back 22/06/2022 @ 00:49 | mainnews | Sligo end up three short in gripping Tailteann Cup semi final

In a game which showed up both where Sligo’s senior footballers have developed their game and where there is opportunity to grow further the Yeats County’s 2022 championship journey came to an end with a three-point defeat at the hands of Cavan in the Tailteann Cup semi-final in Croke Park on Sunday.

Although Div Four champions and 2020 Ulster champions Cavan were always favourites and were never behind, Sligo recovered from a slow start to keep the game in the balance right to the last minute of second half added time.

That slow start saw Cavan who were playing into the Davin End with the benefit of a strong breeze take a six point lead, all from play before Sligo opened their account with a nicely taken point from Pat Spillane off his left side.

As they began to settle into the game with Spillane in particular getting on plenty of ball around the middle of the field, Sligo started to run at the Cavan defence and create plenty of chances. 

Paddy O’Connor was unlucky to see a cleverly disguised shot for the top corner come back off the crossbar but shortly afterwards Sligo got the breakthrough their more adventurous play deserved when the raiding Towey was fouled as he reached the penalty area and O’Connor converted the penalty to bring Sligo right back into the game.

Sligo had further points from Pat Hughes and Daragh Cummins but Cavan kept the scoreboard ticking at the other and got three late points to go in five up at half time – 0-11 to 1-3 with Devaney saving a goal bound shot from Gearoid McKiernan at the death.

Sligo brought leading scorer Niall Murphy onto the field at that start of the second half and he instantly gave Sligo added movement and zip up front. 

In a very evenly balanced second half Murphy notched five point and was directly involved in two other as Sligo took the initiative and ran at Cavan from all angles.

At the same time in defence the Sligo rear-guard were reducing their opponents to scores on the break, led by full back Evan Lyons who had Cavan target man Paddy Lynch completely tied up. When Cavan did get through they again found Devaney in imperious form with one diving save from McKiernan in particular standing out.

In addition to Murphy, Spillane, O’Connor (twice, one mark), Sean Carrabine (three, two frees) and Alan Reilly were also on target as the Yeats County got back to two points in a number of occasions but couldn’t get any closer.

In the finish, it was a game Sligo could have won but just lacked a little in being clinical in the final third having given their opponents a six-point head start.  

Cavan: R Galligan (0-1, 1f); K Brady (0-1), P Faulkner, Conor Brady (0-1); Ciaran Brady, J McLoughlin, O Kiernan (0-1); K Clarke (0-1), T Galligan (0-1); S Smith, G McKiernan (0-4, 1f), G Smith (0-4); M Reilly (0-1), P Lynch (0-1), J Smith(0-2). Subs: C Madden (0-2) for Reilly (31); O Brady for S Smith (58); C Moynagh for K Brady (66); L Fortune for C Brady (68); C Conroy for Lynch (75).

Sligo: A Devaney; N Mullen, E Lyons, P McNamara; L Towey, D Cummins (0-1), P Kilcoyne; P Laffey, P Spillane (0-2); M Gordon, A Reilly (0-1), K Cawley; S Carrabine (0-3, 2f), P Hughes (0-1), P O'Connor (1-2, 1-0 p, 0-1 mark). Subs: N Murphy (0-4) for Hughes (h/t); M Walsh for Cawley (53); D Quinn for Cummins (62); C Griffin for Laffey (63); D Conlon for Spillane (70).