NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION THREE NORTH
Cavan v Derry
Saturday, Kingspan Breffni, 3pm
LAST weekend Derry proved, for the second time this year, that they are an attacking team. After scoring 21 points against Longford in round one, they hammered five goals past Fermanagh in round two, for a 5-13 to 0-9 win.
Fermanagh can sometimes ship a few goals. They allowed three goals on two occasions last year, against Armagh and Laois in the league. But the last team to score more than three goals against Fermanagh was Kildare in 2017 when they beat the Erne men 4-14 to 0-14 in the National League.
Derry’s result last weekend is not only notable for the scoreline but also because Fermanagh had opened their league with a win over Cavan in round one. That would suggest that Rory Gallagher’s team are in superb form, and look on course to gain promotion.
The goals were scored by some surprise names. newer player Ethan Doherty got one, as did defender Gareth McKinless. It was less of a surprise to see the attackers Shane McGuigan and Niall Toner finding the net.
The scoring return is a huge positive for Derry because it proves that they have learned how to handle a massed defence.
Fermanagh set up a well-manned barrier around their goal, but Derry were able to take their time to create the gaps.
Cavan will be well aware of that challenge but they should be buoyed up by their win over Longford last weekend as it eased their concerns of suffering back-to-back defeats.
If we consider that Cavan are going to have to face an attacking unit that will want to pick them apart, then how has their defence held up? Against Fermanagh they shipped 15 points, but lost. Then last weekend they conceded 1-13 and won.
Mickey Graham has played similar defensive line ups in both changes. Killian Clarke, Padraig Faulkner, Conor Brady, Ciaran Brady and Oisin Kiernan were in the line-ups for both games. The change from game one to game two was that Luke Fortune dropped out and Jason McLoughlin came in.
Perhaps the real test for Derry will be handling the high press that Cavan are likely to play against them. They will look to turn the ball over and they will want their newer forwards such as Caoimhin McGovern to get on the ball and get some scores.
Two weeks ago, we would have predicted a Cavan win, but based on the evidence of Derry’s startling scoring returns, they are fancied to beat the Ulster champions.