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June 3, 2019

 ● Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final Armagh 1-14 Cavan 0-17 (after extra-time)

Armagh and Cavan will replay their Ulster Football semi-final next Sunday at Clones after playing out a thrilling 1-14 to 0-17 draw after extra-time.Both teams probably deserve their second chance after producing totally committed displays in testing conditions which kept both sets of supporters on tenderhooks for the entire 90 minutes of action.

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney had named three personnel changes to his starting team. James Morgan comes in at corner back for the injured Patrick Burns who he replaced in the quarter-final with Down. At midfield Niall Grimley has recovered from the injury that ruled him out of the game with Down to take his place at midfield in place of Charlie Vernon. Goal hero Andrew Murnin also comes into the team at corner forward in place of Ethan Rafferty. Rafferty’s place at centre half forward will be taken by captain Rory Grugan. But prior to the 4pm throw-in in Clones Armagh made 2 changes to the selected team as Stefan Campbell replaced Andy Murnin and Mark Shields started in place of Aaron McKay. Cavan manager Mickey Graham has named an unchanged side as they seek to reach a first Ulster final since 2001.

The first half scoring was opened by a Gearoid McKiernan free as wind assisted Cavan took an early lead that did not last too long as Rian O Neill from play levelled for Armagh. A second Cavan converted free from Niall Murray was cancelled out by a ninth minute equalizer from Armagh midfielder Jarly Og Burns and 4 minutes later his team mate Aidan Nugent put Armagh ahead for the first time. A second McKiernan free tied things for the third time on the quarter hour but Burns quickly fired Armagh back in front. Two points in a row for Cavan courtesy of Conor Moynagh and Murry’s second of the afternoon edged Cavan back into the lead. 

A Rian O’Neill free made it 5points apiece as Joe McIlroy replaced James Morgan with the Armagh sub making an early impact as his 25thminute point cancelled out a Cavan lead point from Gearoid Smith. Cavan were dealt a big blow when full back Padraig Faulkner picked up a Black Card and to add to their woes a fourth point of the half from O’Neill gave the Orchard men back the lead. But in keeping with a most entertaining opening half the teams went in level at the break as a Chris Conroy free saw the teams level for the seventh time at 0-7 each.

Armagh began the second half with intent and defender Paul Hughes put them a point to the good but Murray replied with a like score for Cavan which was followed by a Jemar Hall point but another from Murray had Cavan back level at 9 point all. Silverbridges Jarlath Og Burns then grabbed the games first goal as he dispatched the leather past Raymond Galligan on 41 minutes. Cavan duo McKiernan and Murray picked up yellows before O’Neill from a “45” stretched the Orchard advantage to 4 points. Murray with his third point of the half left a green flag between the sides as Cian Mackey entered the fray for Cavan.Aidan Forker got in on the scoring act to make it 1-11 to 0-10 only for Murray to leave a goal in it before namesake Stephen Murray and Armagh’s Nugent traded points. A second Stephen Murray point cut the deficit to two followed by a straight red card for Conor Brady with 12 minutes left on the clock. Cavan responded to the sending off in a very positive manner as points from Dara McVeety and Cian Mackey brought Cavan back on level terms and the game in the melting pot. Jamie Clarke gave Armagh back the lead by converting a 21 yard free but Cavan forced extra-time when Mackey leveled. Armagh then lost Brendan Donaghy to a second yellow before the long whistle sounded to bring us to extra -time .

With both teams restored to the full compliment 15 aside and with so much at stake the opening half of extra time was a tight cagey with no one willing to make a mistake affair. The end result of that first period of 10 minutes was that the scoreboard wasn’t troubled with neither team able to hit the target.

Armagh grabbed the initiative in the 2nd period of extra time as a fisted Stefan Campbell point gave them a crucial lead. Cavan substitute Cian Mackey proved to be a torn in the Armagh side since his introduction and it was his point that insured that it will be back to Clones next Sunday for an eagerly, anticipated replay which will be a double headed affair which will also feature the All-Ireland qualifier between Monaghan and Fermanagh.

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