A hat-trick from James Lee McLoughlin and 7 points from the boot of Brian McGinley was enough to see off the challenge of a reinvigorated Cavan side in Swellan Park.
Letterkenny looked the more dangerous of the two sides in the opening exchanges with a dominant scrum and some early pressure. Opting for the corner after the home teams concessions of a number f penalties, Letterkenny failed to turn pressure in to points and Cavan weathered the early storm well.
However, some astute kicking from flyhalf McConnell and fullback Brian McGinley kept the pressure applied on the home team.
It was tit for tat until finally James Lee McLaughlin broke the deadlock. He was the beneficiary of some excellent handling, with the final pass coming from prop forward Christopher Digimas, who unselfishly put James Lee in for the score.
As is custom, Bryan McGinley missed the opening conversion and the score remained at 5-0. James Lee shipping a heavy and high tackle from Cavan upon grounding the ball, making the finish that little bit more impressive.
James Lee was soon in for his second score when his brother Kevin made a smashing break through the Cavan defence. Shaun McGill was close on his shoulder and first to secure the breakdown for scrum-half Liam Fogarty.
Sensing the opportunity out wide, Fogarty skipped the ball out to Christopher Digimas who once again combined with James Lee to score in the corner. The winger finishing well as he held off the tackle of his opposite man and rounded the full back. McGinley found his range and added the extra points to make it 12-0.
Cavan were next to score when they pounced on a loose ball at the breakdown. Following some slick handling of their own, they managed to find space inside the Letterkenny 22 with a perfectly judged kick from their winger.
Letterkenny were unable to clear their lines and Cavan gained possession once again, allowing an opportunity for their back row to crash over for a deserved five-pointer.
HT Cavan 5-12 Letterkenny
The second half continued in the same vein as the first as both sides battled it out for control of the game. Letterkenny won another penalty inside the Cavan half and Captain Dave Brown opted for the posts to increase the lead. McGinley slotted home and Letterkenny took a 10 point lead into the closing 20 minutes.
Then came the third score of the day for the in-form McLoughlin. Following another impressive scrum in the Cavan half, Brown picked at the base and fed Fogarty.
Fogarty selling a dummy initially slipped the ball out to McGinley who created a two on one in the corner for McLoughlin to get his hat-trick.
Once again, McGinley found the extras and the lead was out to 17.
Cavan were not to be discouraged though, and much to their credit, fought well to keep Letterkenny out for the remainder of the game.
There were of course chances for the bonus point but Letterkenny could not convert. James Sweeney went close only to be chop tackled by the Cavan scrum-half who had scrambled well in defence all day while Tony McBride had a guilt-edged opportunity in the corner but failed to gather the ball cleanly for the score.
The game finished Cavan 5-22 Letterkenny and while they were happy with the win, Letterkenny were ultimately disappointed with the performance.
Letterkenny RFC’s next game comes on the February 9 when they welcome Newry for a mid-table clash.Tags: