Cavan Gaels 0-13 Castlerahan 0-08

Cavan Gaels are back on top in the Breffni County as they won their first SFC title since 2014 with this workmanlike victory over perennial contenders Castlerahan.

In the process, they condemned the luckless Ballyjamesduff men to a third final loss in success and a fourth in the last seven seasons.

The Gaels’ 14th SFC title was secured with five points to spare, with Seanie Johnston the tormentor-in-chief of the Castlerahan defence.

The Cavan attacker kicked 0-5 (0-3f) in an impressive individual performance, although Castlerahan will rue a number of missed chances, including a penalty which Cian Mackey kicked wide in the 20th minute.

There was little between them early on, with points from Niall Smith and Johnston – who was lucky to remain on the pitch after appearing to strike a Castlerahan player early on - nudging the Gaels, managed by former Cavan goal king Jason O’Reilly, into the lead at the end of a cagey first quarter, which set the tone for what was a disappointing spectacle.

Both sides set up defensively but the difference was that the winners committed fully when they broke out on the counter while Castlerahan were slow to flood men into the danger area and spent long periods playing the ball laterally and waiting for openings which never came.

The first goal chance fell to Castlerahan’s Paul Smith in the 17th minute but he blasted over and from the resulting kick-out, Johnston again scored.

A monster effort from Cormac Daly gave Castlerahan hope but Cavan Gaels finished the half with three-in-a-row from Robert Maloney-Derham, Smith and a Martin Dunne free to go in at half-time leading by 0-7 to 0-2.

Castlerahan enjoyed their best spell early in the second half, sub Oisin O’Connell curling in a sweet point from the wing and Oisin Kiernan adding a 45.

But the Gaels continued to pick off scores more easily and Johnston (two, one free) cancelled out scores from Mackey and Sean Brady.

The Gaels lost defender Levi Murphy to a second yellow card and from the resulting free, Cian McEnroe made it a three-point game.

But the county town side finished stronger, with Barry Fortune and sub Declan Meehan racing through for points and Dunne swinging one in from the left corner as they eased over the finish line.

Cavan Gaels: Ciaran Flynn; Luke Fortune, Niall Murray, Kevin Meehan; Stephen Murray, Barry Fortune (0-1), Levi Murphy; Paul Graham, Robert Maloney-Derham (0-2); Niall Smith (0-2), Micheál Lyng, Andy Graham; Paul O’Connor, Sean Johnston (0-5, 2f), Martin Dunne (0-2, 1f).

Subs: Darragh Sexton for S Murray (43mins), Declan Meehan (0-1) for A Graham (50), Vinny Coyle for P O’Connor (60), Sean Fitzsimons (60, BC).

Castlerahan: Jamie Leahy; Stephen Cooney, Oisin Kiernan (0-2, 1 ’45), Enda O’Connell; Paul Smith (0-1), Fergal Reilly, Pauric Smith; Cormac Daly (0-1), David Wright; Brian Coleman, Ronan Flanagan, Daniel Lynch; Sean Brady (0-1), Cian Mackey (0-1, 1f), Enda Flanagan.

Subs: Oisin O’Connell (0-1) for B Coleman (HT), Cian McEnroe (0-1, 1f) for D Lynch (43mins), Paul Brady for S Brady (60), Gavin Daly for E Flanagan (60).

Referee: Gerry Sheridan (Mullahoran)