Ulster SFC: Cavan reach decider
Ulster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final replay
CAVAN 0-23 ARMAGH 0-17
By Orla Bannon at St Tiernach's Park, Clones
Cavan showed terrific resolve to withstand Armagh’s second-half persistence, advancing to a first Ulster SFC final since 2001.
This was an emotional win for the Breffni county in front of 21,192 at Clones, and a long time coming for a team which has been waiting for underage provincial success to bear fruit at senior level.
Dara McVeety was majestic in the second half, typifying Cavan’s steel and refusal to buckle no matter what Armagh threw at them – and they too gave it everything in a gripping Ulster semi-final replay.
Having come from behind in last week on two occasions to take the game to extra time and then set up this replay, Cavan were the frontrunners this time and led almost from start to finish.
Rian O’Neill scored the opening point for Armagh but after that, Cavan took over and bossed most of the first half – though Jamie Clarke went very close with a goal chance which just flew wide.
They reeled off five points in a row with Niall Murray prominent and the gutsy defender Conor Moynagh pulling the trigger from way out the field.
Gearoid McKiernan also got his stunning day off to a flier with an early point, and even when O’Neill scored Armagh’s first point from play after 25 minutes, they were already chasing the game.
Cavan ‘keeper Raymond Galligan saved with his feet from Mark Shields and then stepped up to convert a long-range free to put Cavan 0-9 to 0-2 ahead. Cavan won almost all the kickouts and lorded possession leaving Armagh fighting for scraps.
Even though Jamie Clarke was enjoying one of his finest displays in an Armagh jersey kicking 0-7 in total, the Orchard county didn’t really make it a contest until the last seven minutes of the first half.
Clarke scored four points in that spell, two from play, to cut the deficit to a very manageable 0-11 to 0-8 at the break.
Armagh, without an Ulster final appearance themselves since 2008, threw everything at it and Stefan Campbell made a huge impact off the bench.
Himself and Clarke made hay and 10 minutes into the second half, they clawed Armagh back to within a point, at 0-13 to 0-12.
The teams went toe-to-toe after that, it was point for point, tit for tat, but every time Armagh threatened to draw level, Cavan responded – usually with a score of fabulous quality.
O’Neill missed a pivotal free to take Armagh to within a point and from there Cavan grew stronger with McVeety, McKiernan and Martin Reilly all coming up with the goods.
Cian Mackey finished off his lung-bursting run with a fine score and only then did Armagh’s challenge finally subside in the last five minutes, leaving Cavan looking ahead to an Ulster final against Donegal on June 23.
Scorers for Cavan: Niall Murray 0-5 (4fs), Dara McVeety 0-4, Raymond Galligan 0-3 (3f), Gearoid McKiernan 0-3, Conor Moynagh 0-2, Martin Reilly, Killian Clarke, Conor Rehill, Oisin Kiernan, Oisin Pierson, Cian Mackey 0-1 each.
Scorers for Armagh: Jamie Clarke 0-7 (3fs), Rian O’Neill 0-6 (4fs), Stefan Campbell 0-2, Mark Shields, Rory Grugan 0-1 each
CAVAN: Raymond Galligan; Jason McLoughlin, Padraig Faulkner, Conor Moynagh; Martin Reilly, Killian Clarke, Conor Reihill; Conor Brady, Gearoid McKiernan; Oisin Kiernan, Dara McVeety, Niall Murray; Oisin Pierson, Thomas Galligan, Conor Madden.
Subs: Cian Mackey for Madden (39), Stephen Murray for T Galligan (46), Caoimhin O’Reilly for Pierson (62).
ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; Mark Shields, Paddy Burns, James Morgan; Paul Hughes, Ryan Kennedy, Aidan Forker; Jarlath Og Burns, Niall Grimley; Aidan Nugent, Charlie Vernon, Jemar Hall; Rian O’Neill, Jamie Clarke, Andrew Murnin
Subs: Stefan Campbell for Nugent (29), Aaron McKay for Vernon (30), Rory Grugan for Murnin (42), Ben Crealey for Hall (53), Joe McElroy for Morgan (62), Ethan Rafferty for Burns (66).
REFEREE: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).