Cavan sauntered to a comfortable opening win in the Tailteann Cup as they confirmed recent superiority over Down at Kingspan Breffni.
Following an impressive performance against Donegal in the Ulster semi-final, Cavan were installed as favourites to win the Tailteann Cup and they lived up to that billing here, controlling proceedings throughout.
At half-time, Cavan were ahead by 0-13 to 1-03, not quite out of sight but not far off it. Down opened the scoring with a goal in the sixth minute from Ruairi O'Hare but from there on, Cavan dominated.
Star of the show was 2020 All-Star goalkeeper Raymond Galligan, who kicked 0-04 in the first half and saved two penalties just before the break. The Lacken clubman blocked Barry O’Hagan’s original effort and when ref David Gough ordered it to be retaken after deeming a defender to have infringed, Galligan produced an even better stop, which drew the loudest cheer of the day from the 3,616-strong crowd.
Team captain Galligan added three more points from dead balls in the second half to crown an outstanding performance.
The sides exchanged wides early on – Down had 12 in total – before slack defending allowed Daniel Guinness and Darren O’Hagan break through and O’Hare found the net from close range.
Cavan’s response was emphatic, though, as points from Gerry Smith, Raymond Galligan (free), Paddy Lynch, Oisin Kiernan, James Smith and Galligan again (45) saw them lead by double scores on the 15-minute mark.
A left-footed Odhran Murdock point got Down going again but a free from Lynch and another Galligan long-range free made it 0-08 to 1-01 as Cavan began to stretch their legs.
A good score from Barry O’Hagan was cancelled out by a Gearoid McKiernan free. Jason McLoughlin pinched the resulting kick-out and found Lynch, who struck the upright; Gerry Smith reacted quickest to knock over the rebound.
Down were pinned back at this stage. The powerful James Smith rattled the post before two from McKiernan (one free and one monster effort off the right) made it 0-12 to 1-02.
An Anthony Doherty point stopped the bleeding momentarily for James McCartan’s men but Cavan always had another gear. In first-half injury time, Man of the Match Galligan scored a 45 and then saved those two penalties as Mickey Graham’s side went in at the interval with a spring in their step.
And when McKiernan (free) and James Smith, after a fine run from Kiernan, raised white flags early in the second half, the contest was as good as over.
Down pressed in the second half, with subs Andrew Gilmore and Liam Kerr causing Cavan problems, but the hosts were never troubled, with strong performances all over the pitch from the likes of Padraig Faulkner, Killian Clarke and James Smith to mention a few.
Down strung together three in succession from Kerr, Barry O’Hagan (free) and Pierce Laverty but Cavan responded with three of their own from Galligan and a McKiernan brace – one after a sweeping move and a free.
Cavan sub Thomas Edward Donohoe fisted a point and Galligan, Lynch and debutant Niall Carolan all got in on the act in the closing stages, with Gilmore, Ruairi McCormack and Kerr registering at the other end as Cavan won pulling up.
Cavan: Raymond Galligan (0-07, 4f, 3 45's), Luke Fortune, Padraig Faulkner, Killian Brady, Jason McLoughlin, Killian Clarke, Conor Brady, Thomas Galligan, James Smith (0-02), Oisin Kiernan (0-01), Gearoid McKiernan (0-06, 4f), Gerard Smith (0-02), Martin Reilly, Paddy Lynch (0-04, 1f), Ciaran Brady
Subs: Thomas Edward Donohoe (0-01) for M Reilly (48 mins), Cian Madden for Ciaran Brady (50), Niall Carolan (0-01) for Faulkner (55), Chris Conroy for T Galligan, Oisin Brady for McLoughlin (both 63)
Down: Niall Kane, Peter Fegan, Adam Lynch, Tomás McInerney, Darren O’Hagan, Conor Poland, Ryan Magill (0-01), Anthony Doherty (0-01), Ruairi O’Hare (1-00), Daniel Guinness, Odhran Murdock (0-01), Pierce Laverty (0-01), Ruairi McCormack (0-01), Barry O’Hagan (0-02, 1f), Niall McParland
Subs: Rory Burns for Kane, Andrew Gilmore (0-02, 1f) for R O’Hare, Liam Kerr (0-03) for McParland (all ht), Conor Francis for P Fegan (45 mins), Patrick McCarthy for D O’Hagan (59)
Referee: David Gough (Meath)