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Kieran Donaghy's Report Card | Monaghan vs Cavan

On the ground in Clones as Cavan overcame Monaghan in a tense Ulster opener, here's the first edi...

Kieran Donaghy's Report Card |...

Kieran Donaghy's Report Card | Monaghan vs Cavan

On the ground in Clones as Cavan overcame Monaghan in a tense Ulster opener, here's the first edition of Kieran Donaghy's Report Card from the 2020 Senior Football Championship.

There weren't too many people backing Cavan to progress through this preliminary Ulster clash with Monaghan for a place in the provincial quarter-finals against Antrim. Yet, in the opening game of this year's championship, it was Mickey Graham's side who overhauled a half-time deficit of seven-points and earned a memorable win against their neighbours.

In Clones to watch the game live, here's what four-time All-Ireland winner Kieran Donaghy had to say about the players who stood out, and those who left a little bit behind them.

Kieran Donaghy's Report Card - Monaghan vs Cavan


Rory Beggan - 6/10

One of Monaghan's leaders on the pitch, Rory Beggan's greatest strengths were nullified in how Mickey Graham set up his Cavan team. In the first-half, they let Beggan pop off the short 20-yard kick-outs to his full-backs.

That's grand, but it stopped Monaghan from utilising his strengths with the long balls into the middle of the pitch for those one-on-one battles.

There were a few times where he was able to come out with the ball and could have popped one or two points over, but he opted not to. In the end, he nailed a huge pressure free-kick at the end and 6/10 may seem a little bit hard because he didn't do much wrong himself.

But Mickey Graham and Cavan just did a job and it impacted what Rory Beggan could really hope to do.

Darren Hughes - 5/10

A former international rules teammate of mine, Darren Hughes is an unbelievable player. In a game like this, you would be expecting an 8 or 9/10 performance from him every time.

Despite his leadership, experience and work rate though, he never really looked a danger today. We've seen what he can do - going forward especially - but he never really came to terms with the game.

Stephen O'Hanlon - 8/10

One of the top performers out there today, Stephen doesn't deserve to be on the losing side.

Whenever he was given any kind of decent supply at all, he looked electric. I honestly think that if Monaghan could have kept O'Hanlon and Conor McManus in around the Cavan goal, they would have won today comfortably.

I think that's the big task ahead of Séamus McEnaney next year, getting O'Hanlon and McManus in closer to goal.

Conor McManus - 8/10

If Monaghan had continued in the second-half how they started in the first, we'd be talking about a 10/10 man-of-the-match performance for Conor McManus.

He was poor in the second-half I felt, but the way Monaghan played absolutely killed him. If I was the full-forward in there playing with the service he had to put up with I'd be pulling what little hair I have out of my head. It must be so frustrating.

He had such a good thing going in that first-half. I think then when he eventually got a chance or two in the second-half, he was cold and snatching at chances a bit.

Conor McCarthy - 5/10

He's another one who showed plenty of promise early on but faded out of the game completely.

I think to get the best out of him, O'Hanlon and McManus, he's got to be brought a bit further out the pitch where he can get on more ball.

He's a good play-maker, an intelligent guy and a good baller, but if you brought him out then he has the vision to set the lads up inside.

Kieran Donaghy 31 October 2020; Oisin Kiernan of Cavan and Conor McManus of Monaghan. Photo by Sportsfile


Raymond Galligan - 9/10

My man-of-the-match, even though I believe it was given to Thomas Galligan on Sky Sports. 

Obviously, he made that kick in extra-time to win the game, but he made three big stops in that first-half when Monaghan were rampant. They proved absolutely crucial in the end.

In that first-half too, when Cavan were nullifying Rory Beggan at the other end, Galligan was kicking brilliantly into the breeze and gave Cavan that platform to get at Monaghan in the first 10 minutes.

Thomas Galligan - 8/10

This man was absolutely outstanding too, brilliant in everything that he did.

I loved to see that because from talking to a few people up in Cavan beforehand, he has been flying in the county championship and was very unlucky not to be starting this game today.

Not only did he work his socks off in the middle of the field when he came on then, he was kicking scores and setting up points for others. What an impact player for Mickey Graham to have brought in!

I can tell you one thing, he'll be starting the Ulster quarter-final in a week's time.

James Smith - 7/10

Another man who has been playing tremendous football in the club championship, James was a bit unlucky in the week to fall from a ladder. He has done really, really well today to keep going do what he did while he could keep going.

Between himself and Gearoid McKiernan, they gave Cavan a really strong platform to build upon in the opening 15 minutes. Even though Monaghan came back strong, I think that platform gave Cavan the belief later on that they could do something here.

James Smith was integral to that and I think after he's fully recovered from that accident there will be no stopping him.

Gearoid McKiernan - 8/10

A massive influence today for Cavan after a bit of an up-and-down league campaign I thought.

When the pressure was on though and Cavan really needed him today, he was a colossal figure in the middle of the field alongside Smith and Galligan then in the second-half.

He won seven of his own kick-outs - five clean, with two from breaks - and kicked over 0-3. That Cavan midfield dominated Darren Hughes and Kieran Hughes. It was a good day at the office for the big man.

Martin Reilly - 7/10

A serious leader in that Cavan team, he was strong right up to the very end - which is no small thing at 32 years of age! He was absolutely flying.

Industrious throughout, tracking back all day, he kicked a massive point when they needed it most and then grabbed that all important goal too.

He was integral to another victory for Cavan over the Farney Army and they'll all be happy going back to Breffni tonight.

Keep up to date with everything that Kieran Donaghy has to say throughout the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship on OTB 

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All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Cavan GAA Gaelic Football Kieran Donaghy Monaghan Ulster Senior Football Championship