Seanie Johnston made his much awaited return to Breffni Park on Saturday, but the difference between the teams upon his introduction on 61 minutes meant it was a less significant moment than many had anticipated. His pointed free was the last score of the game, but a seventeen point victory for the Lilywhites was a reflection of their supremacy from the outset.
The attendance had swelled for a glimpse of the former hot-shot Johnston in a white jersey, with 15,000 a larger than usual number to pass through the turnstiles. For the opening quarter the home side were still in contention just two points adrift on a scoreline of five points to three. That was as good as it was to get for Cavan, and on twenty minutes the visitors struck for the opening goal. Emmet Bolton surged upfield after collecting from goalkeeper Shane Connolly. He fed Johnny Doyle who in turn laid the ball off to Tomas O’Connor in full-forward. His pass allowed Mike Conway to almost walk the ball into the net. Bolton scored the second after a fluffed attempt from O’Connor, and Kildare led at the break 2-11 to four points.
Cavan reaped the reward of playing three men in the inside line after the resumption of the second half, with Eugene Keating out muscling Peter Kelly to fire home. Again the Lilywhites responded in kind, Doyle pointed on his 60th consecutive championship appearance, Dermot Early came on and scored while Eoghan O’Flaherty finished with seven frees and a point from play. Alan Smith capped a strong display when he side footed the third goal, and fittingly Johnston capped the game off with the final score.
Kieran McGeeney was relieved to finally put the transfer saga to behind them. “I would have liked to have put it to bed four or five months ago,” Kildare boss McGeeney said. “He was playing well at training this week. He deserved a chance, so he got it.”