Armagh 2-18 Cavan 3-13
Minutes before the half time whistle sounded, Armagh looked to be cruising to a first round victory, but Cavan’s 31st minute penalty kick handed the Breffni Blues a much needed lifeline, and suddenly the score line was much closer than Armagh’s first half performance deserved.
Cian McConville and Justin Kieran were reliable in front of the goals throughout while Tiernan Kelly gave a good display from centre half forward, as did Niall McCorry in the middle of the park. The Armagh defence were caught out several times however, and saves from Caolin McParland and sub ‘keeper Shea Magill denied Cavan further three-pointers.
The away side got off the mark with a pointed free after an off the ball foul while a brilliant long range score, from the outside of Captain Justin Kierans boot, levelled matters. Armagh were soon on top when Tiernan Kelly floated a beautiful pass over the Cavan defence, towards the waiting Shane Donnelly, who captured possession and fired low to the net.
Cavan got back on terms within 60 seconds through a goal of their own but Armagh began to find their groove and really dominate proceedings, thanks mostly to Cian McConville. The nippy corner forward was electric during his sides best 10 minute spell, hitting 0-4 (2 frees) in a row before Tiernan Kelly swung over a 45.
The visitors could have rattled the net once again but would have to settle for a point while Tiernan Kelly played through McConville for his 5th point in 10 minutes. Cavan tagged on another while Kelly made a fantastic fetch to set Armagh going once again and it was Oisin King who hit the target this time.
Caolin McParland pulled off a superb save between the posts while McConville and Justin Kieran raised a further two white flags at the other end of the field. Cavan pulled one back before striking their last minute penalty to dwindle Armagh’s dominance to just three points, Armagh ahead 1-10 to 2-4.
Cavan were, incredibly, back on level terms with a goal in the opening moments of the second period, but Armagh replied through Justin Kieran to edge ahead once again. Cavan levelled prior to Armagh hitting three on the trot through Conor Lavery, a super long range Dara O’Callaghan point and a converted free by Justin Kieran.
Cian McConville fired over his 7th with another score from the dead ball, splitting two Cavan points before Ciaran Mackin showed great control of possession and drove through the Cavan defence to slip the ball past the helpless ‘keeper, soccer style, and hand his side a five point lead once again
The travelling side struck the next three points in a row to bring them back into contention while substitute Caolan Reavey opened his account with 7 minutes of normal time remaining. Niall McCorry replied to two Cavan scores as the sides continued to exchange points with the game drawing to a close.
Cavan brought the margin back to one with the game now in added time and it was Clann Eireann’s Tiernan Kelly who struck the final score to secure a deserved Armagh victory, despite the referee playing a questionable seven minutes of additional time. The scoreboard at the final whistle read Armagh 2-18 Cavan 3-13.
Armagh will now travel to Westmeath for their round two clash next Saturday, with the time and venue yet to be confirmed. Peter McDonnell will come away pleased with the win but will hope to deny future oppositions the goal chances that Cavan failed to take. All in all it was a good performance from Armagh and a great way to kick-start their season.
Armagh Scorers: Cian McConville (0-7), Justin Kieran (0-4), Shane Donnelly (1-0), Ciaran Mackin (1-0), Tiernan Kelly (0-2), Niall McCorry (0-1), Caolan Reavey (0-1), Conor Lavery (0-1), Oisin King (0-1), Dara O’Callaghan (0-1).