First blood for Cavan

January 4, 2016

Dr Mckenna Cup Armagh 0-11 Cavan 2-08

The opening encounter of the 2016 trilogy featuring Armagh and Cavan provided little in terms of entertaining footbal, but the side show of 11 cards, 5 red, 4 yellow and 2 black only helped to deflect from what was another disappointing home performance, that produced 16 wides.

Given the quality of football, frequent visitors to St. Oliver Plunkett Park are treated to, the last two from Armagh in Crossmaglen leaves a lot to be desired in terms of team work, a footballing style and a system of play.

Armagh named a strong starting 15 with Ronan McCaughley and Niall Gimley, the least experience, in terms of county duty. Cavan, with a youthful looking side, following the loss of some 14 players from their 2015 panel, will be delighted with their win especially when they were 13 players against 15 following red cards for David Givney and Joshua Hayes in the opening 25 minutes.

Armagh led through a pointed free by Ethan Rafferty but a like score from Martin Reilly levelled matters. Six minutes into the match, the return from injury David Givney saw red for an off the ball incident caught by the linesman.

Cavan respond to the setback in style as Man of the Match Neil McDermott followed up his initial shot, blocked up McNeice, by slotting the ball home at the second attempt. Stefan Campbell and Liam Buckanan traded points with debutante Edna Henry adding a point to make it 1-3 to 0-2.

A quick McDermott free found Hayes all alone inside the Armagh defence and as he drew the keeper he gave the ball to Christopher Conroy who netted goal number 2 for the visitors. Following the goal Hayes got a straight red from Derry referee, Barry Cassidy for a incident in the follow up to the goal, which had made the score 2-3 to 0-2.

Things did not improve for Armagh as Andy Murnin was given a black card and was replaced by Brendan Donaghy whose first play resulted in a free converted by McDermott. Sandwiched between two Conroy points, for Cavan was a minor from Rafferty as Armagh registered a score for the first time in 25 minutes.

Cavan went into the break 2-6 to 0-3 in front but behind in the wide stakes, 8 to 3. Miceal McKenna replaced Niall McConville for the second half.

Gavin McParland open the second half scoring with Brendan Donaghy getting their second of the half as Armagh skipper Ciaran McKeever escaped with a yellow for a very high challenge on midfielder Buchanan. Numerically on top Armagh hogged possession but lacked creativity with Cavan sub Tom Hayes showing them the way with a terrific sole effort for a super point.

Armagh hit a purple patch as McKenna, Campbell and Rafferty all recorded points, 0-8 to 2-7 with 15 minutes left on the clock. Cards came thick and fast as Armagh lost Findon to a second yellow, Vernan to a black and Donaghy a straight red.

Armagh could  not create a badly needed goal chance as substitute Hayes pilfered another point for Cavan to put them 2 goals clear.

Armagh had the last 3 points of the game as Stefan Forker, McParland, (a fleeting goal chance) blasted over the bar and Ethan Rafferty had the last score following a third Cavan straight red as full-back Killian Brady, who had been very solid throughout, threw a punch.

Armagh go to Clones next Sunday to take on Ulster Champions Monaghan who were surprisingly beaten by UUJ 2-16 to 1-9. Defeat for either teams will rule them out any further progress of the competition.