Cavan Cruise

May 30, 2016

USFC Quarter Final Cavan 2-16 Armagh 0-14

Cavan cruised into the semi-final of the Ulster Championship with a comfortable 2-16 to 0-14 win over a very disappointing Armagh at a sun-drenched Kingspan Breffni Park in front of an attendance in excess of 15,000.

Terry Hyland’s men were in charge for almost the whole 70 minutes once they got to grips with Armagh’s early scoring spell which had them ahead 3-1 inside 10 minutes. Cavan picked up a first win in the Ulster Championship since 2013 to set up a meeting with Tyrone who beat them in the league final.

Cavan dominated the first half, at the end of which the only surprising thing was that they had left Armagh in the match by only leading 1-9 to 0-7 despite their dominance.

The home side opened the scoring with the first of what was to become a 7 point haul for the magnificent Sean Johnston. But by the tenth minute points from Stefan Campbell (free) and a brace from Ethan Rafferty had Armagh ahead but not for long as two Johnston frees and a “45” from goalkeeper Ray Galligan nudged them in front and they quickly kicked on, Johnston floating over a neat point from play and McKiernan adding two more. Cavan were full of running and looked dangerous every time they broke out as they outscored Armagh 1-7 to 0-1 in a blistering 20 minute spell. The major score arrived in the 20th minute, the hosts hit the net when Martin Reilly raced clear down the left wing, cut in and fed Dara McVeety for a straightforward finish past debutant Orchard goalkeeper Paul Courtney.

Indeed the former Armagh outfielder who replaced the injured Paddy Morrison between the posts from the start was used in a most unusual and hitherto unseen roll as he took short kick-outs to defenders and then linked up to carry the move on upfield. The use of the keeper in this role did not go down well with the Orchard support as it looked in the opening half as if it was the only” game plan” on offer from the visitors. As a staunch Armagh supporter quipped after the game “the goalkeeper was our best attacking option of the first half” A terrific Tony Kernan point, his sides second from play, was followed by a converted “45” by Campbell to leave the interval deficit at a mere 5 points. Armagh had withdrawn two of their starting sextet of forwards Ciaran O’Hanlon and Colm Watters before the half hour mark replaced by Aaron Findon and Miceal McKenna.

Armagh began the second half brightly with points from Kernan and Campbell separated by a pointed Johnston free all inside the opening 3 minutes. Armagh then lost Charlie Vernon to injury replaced by Senan Connell. When Martin Reilly tucked away a penalty spot following a foul on late replacement Cian Mackey the deficit was stretched to 8 points 2-11 to 0-9 and Cavan looked set to cruise home but they had to withstand one major hairy moment before securing a safe passage.

The excellent Stefan Campbell who was Armagh’s go-to man all day (he finished with 8 points) was fouled for a penalty with the score at 2-12 to 0-12. The Armagh lifeline was switched off when Stefan’s weak penalty was saved by Galligan and the hosts immediately countered and Mackey set Johnston up for the killer score. It was a five-point swing as Johnston bagged his fourth and Brady his second within two minutes of that miss – 2-14 to 0-12.

Campbell (free) arrowed over his seventh with a disappointing match long over as any sort of contest; centre back Conor Moynagh popped over the winners’ 15th point a minute from the end of normal time. Campell (free) and McVeety traded late points as Cavan eased to the winning post.

Cavan’s pace and their extra quality in defence and a sense of purposeful, meaningful play was the big difference between the teams. For all their preparations and hard work Armagh were bereft of ideas getting back in numbers without any clear purpose as Cavan broke through them with ease. Two scoring forwards over the course of the game, 6 points from play tells it’s own tale for Armagh who in truth played like their divisional status should reflect as the upward spiral of Cavan continues as they celebrate their first Ulster win in 3 years.

It’s back to the drawing board for Kieran McGeeney and his men as they face up to a qualifier’s campaign to prolong the Summer..

Scorers for Cavan: S Johnston 0-7 (4fs), D McVeety 1-1, G McKiernan 0-3, M Reilly 1-0 (pen), J Brady 0-2, D Givney 0-1, C Moynagh 0-1

Scorers for Armagh: S Campbell 0-8 (2 45s, 3f), E Rafferty 0-4 (3fs), T Kernan 0-2,

Cavan: R Galligan, P Faulkner, K Clarke, R Dunne, F Flanagan, C Moynagh, Murray, T Corr, L Buchanan, D McVeety, G McKiernan, M Reilly, D Givney, M Argue, S Johnston

Subs: C Brady for Murray (46), E Keating for Argue (51), J Brady for Keating (BC, 54), K Brady for P Faulkner (65), G Smith for Johnston (66), L Buchanan for McKiernan (69).

Armagh: P Morison, J Morgan, C Vernon, M Shields, A Mallon, A Forker, C McKeever, B Donaghy, E Rafferty , R Grugan, T Kernan, C O’Hanlon, C Watters, S Campbell, G McParland.

Subs: A Findon for O’Hanlon (27), M McKenna for Watters (30), S Connell for Vernon (40), J McElroy for Rafferty (44), S Heffron for McElroy (BC, 50).

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).