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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 May 2007, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Cavan 2-11 3-8 Down
Dan Gordon (left) and Cavan's Larry Reilly
Down's Dan Gordon is tackled by Cavan's Larry Reilly
Cavan and Down drew 2-11 to 3-8 in Sunday's Bank of Ireland Ulster Championship opener at Breffni Park.

Down led by three points after 69 minutes but Jonathon Crowe's goal and Dermot McCabe's point then put Cavan in front before Ronan Murtagh's equaliser.

Ronan Sexton and Benny Coulter hit Down goals while Larry Reilly replied as Down led 2-3 to 1-5 at half-time.

Sexton hit Down's third goal early in the second half as they seemed set for victory before Cavan's late fightback.

For the most part it was a frantic contest although both defences will have major room for improvement ahead of next Sunday's replay at Newry (1615 BST).

Down had two great goal chances in the opening five minutes but both Coulter and Daniel Hughes were off target.

However, after Larry Reilly had opened the scoring with a Cavan point in the eighth minute, Down did rattle the net seconds later with Sexton producing a neat finish after Coulter had won possession ahead of Paul Brady.

Cavan regrouped to level by the 17th minute with Larry Reilly, Gerald Pierson and Dermot McCabe on target.

It could have been ever better for Cavan at that stage as Jason O'Reilly had missed a great goal chance.

Down then showed the Cavan forwards how to finish when Coulter hammered to the net after great work by Dan Gordon and Aidan Carr.

Ross Carr (left) and Benny Coulter
Down boss Ross Carr delivers instructions to Benny Coulter

A point from substitute Martin Cole extended Down's lead to 2-1 to 0-4 and the Mournemen then went close to a third goal when James Reilly superbly diverted Dan Gordon's shot wide.

However, the sides were level again when Larry Reilly palmed the ball to the net as Jason O'Reilly and Seanie Johnston had ripped the Down defence apart with astonishing ease.

Down replied to lead 2-3 to 1-5 at the interval although Cavan made the better start to the second half with Seanie Johnston and Jason O'Reilly hitting immediate scores.

But within seconds, the Cavan defence was marked absent yet again and Coulter won possession 30 yards out and set up Sexton for his second goal of the day.

Pierson's third point of the match reduced Down's lead to the minimum by the 47th minute only for Coulter's terrific score five minutes later to double to the Mourne lead.

A glorious score from substitute Paul McComiskey and Ronan Murtagh's superb point seemed to have Down on their way to victory as they led by three with four minutes of normal time left.

Perhaps, the crucial moment of the match came a minute later when Coulter, uncharacteristically, wasted a great chance to hit an insurance score.

Given the defending that had been on show, there was always the likelihood that Cavan would get a goal chance but Down goalkeeper Michael McVeigh will have nightmares about failing to hold on to Jonathan Crowe's shot which squirmed out of his grasp and into the net, off a post.

Incredibly, Cavan then took the lead a minute into injury-time after a massive free from the superb Dermot McCabe.

It looked as though the Mournemen had been mugged but to their credit, they worked the ball downfield and Murtagh delivered a fine equaliser from 35 metres.

Cavan: J Reilly; P Brady. E O?Reilly, M Cahill; M Hannon, A Ford, R Flanagan; D McCabe 0-2, L Mulvey; R Cullivan, M McKeever, L Reilly 1-2; J O?Reilly 0-2, G Pierson 0-3, S Johnston 0-1.
Subs: M Lyng for Cullivan (42 mins), C Mackey for Johnston (50), N Walsh for Mulvey (55), S Brady 0-1 for Pierson ( 61), J Crowe 1-0 for Brady (63).

Down: M McVeigh; D McCartan, D Rooney, K McGuigan; R Murtagh 0-2, B Grant, J Clarke; D Gordan 0-1, J Lynch; J McGovern 0-1, A Carr, R Sexton 2-0; D Hughes, P Downey, B Coulter 1-1.
Subs: M Cole 0-2 for Clarke (19 mins), S Kearney for McGovern (48), P Murphy for Lynch (52), P McComiskey 0-1 for Hughes (60).

Referee: D Fahy (Longford).






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