Armagh minors produced a fine performance on Sunday to overcome a decent Cavan side and book a spot in the Ulster semi-final. The game, which was played in the sweltering heat at Kingspan Breffni Park, saw Armagh run out 2-14 to 1-12 winners.
Armagh showed their intent from the throw in as they raced into a 1-2 to 0-0 lead with Jason Duffy hitting the scores either side of a Rian O’Neill three pointer. In defence, good blocks from Ryan Owens and Barry McCambridge spurned Cavan goal efforts before the home side finally got off the mark after ten minutes. Rian O’Neill was on hand again to push Armagh further ahead from the dead ball, but Cavan began to get a grip on the game and pulled a couple back through Thomas Donohue and Stephen Smith. Scores were traded with Rian O’Neill converting a free after he was fouled and Conor Brady hitting one from play. With 25 minutes on the clock, Armagh had a chance on goal denied by a super block from Brady who reacted quickly to an effort from Declan Loye after an O’Neill attempt on goal fell favourably to the Mullaghbane man. O’Neill converted the resultant 45 before Cavan got to within two with half time approaching. The Orchard side however, finished the half strongly with scores for Jason Duffy and a sweetly struck Rian O’Neill free kick leaving the half time score Ard Mhacha 1-7 An Cabhán 0-6.
Cavan got the second half scoring underway with an effort from Conor Smith, but it wasn’t too long before the impressive Rian O’Neill was back on the scoresheet. Eamon McCabe, who had just arrived into the game having replaced Conor O’Neill, added a point, but the home side ensured that the second half would not be one way traffic. James Smith was the first to get up to a high ball in on top of Armagh keeper Michael Nugent as he palmed to the net. Patrick Reilly also popped up to hit a score and bring Cavan to within a single point of the Orchard county. However, Armagh soon dampened the roar from the home support with scores from Ross McQuillan and a great effort from Jason Duffy, after great defensive work from Declan Loye. With ten minutes to go, Cavan suffered a blow when they were reduced to 14 men and Ross McQuillan confounded their woes with another super score to push Armagh four ahead. While Cavan added a couple of scores, Kevin McAlinden introduced himself to the game with a lovely point after good Armagh build-up work. Points were traded and as the game neared its climax, Armagh finished in style with Callum O’Neill slotting home the second three pointer for the Orchard to secure the win on a scoreline of Ard Mhacha 2-14 An Cabhán 1-12.
Well done to all of the players and the management team on a good win in Kingspan Breffni Park. Maith sibh leis na h-imreoirí agus leis an fhoireann bhainistíochta. Special mention to James McAlinden in corner back who had a very good game yesterday. James’ grandmother sadly passed away at the end of last week and Armagh GAA would like to extend deepest sympathy to James and to the McAlinden family. Suaimhneas síoraí ar a h-anam uasal Gaelach.
Armagh: Michael Nugent, James McAlinden, Barry McCambridge, Declan Loye, Cathair McGeary, Conor O’Neill, Ryan Owens, Callum O’Neill 1-0, Eoghan McDonnell, Ross McQuillan 0-3, Rian O’Neill 1-5 (0-4f, 0-1 45), Conor McConville, Jason Duffy 0-4, Shea Loye, Ryan McSherry
Subs: Matthew Girvan, Eamon McCabe 0-1, Kevin McAlinden 0-1, Sean McAlinden