Cavan 0-11 Armagh 1-12
By Shaun Casey
Victory for Armagh was sealed by Ross McQuillan’s first goal in the orange and white, opening up a four point gap at the final whistle.
The Orchard County were much the better side in the opening half. Some wayward shooting kept the hosts in the game however, as Armagh registered nine wides by half time.
Cavan’s intetnions were clear from the first whistle. They got plenty of bodies back behind the ball and lived off turnovers and counterattacks.
Their driect runners caused Armagh problems early on, forcing fouls from the opposition defence. The Breffni men grabbed their only three points of the opening half from frees. Gearoid McKiernan (2) and Paddy Lynch hitting the target.
Off the mark
Armagh finally opened their account at the fourth time of asking, with Aidan Forker splitting the posts.
A beautiful through ball from Rory Grugan sent Ciaran Mackin through on goal and the debutant popped the ball over the bar to close the gap to one at the water break.
Jarly Og Burns and Stephen Sheridan both raised white flags before two super catches from Connaire Mackin and Rian O’Neill set about further attacks, finished by Jemar Hall and Rory Grugan (free).
Armagh held a 6-3 lead at the break, but the score could have been level after 2020 All-Star Thomas Galligan entered the fray and almost made the perfect impact.
Oisin Brady’s effort dropped dangerously into the goalmouth and Galligan’s punch just edged the wrong side of the post.
Three more goal chances were squandered by the Breffni Blues after the turnaround as they shifted up a gear.
McKiernan blasted wide, James Smith rattled the crossbar and Lynch forced a great save from Blaine Hughes.
Man of the Match McKiernan began to dominate, chipping in with three points in the third quarter. Hall and Burns kept Armagh level before they had a near-miss goal chance of their own.
Rian O’Neill unselfishly played through Greg McCabe, who fed Stephen Sheridan. The midfielder’s palmed effort ricocheted off the post and his second attempt was saved.
McCabe was on hand to volley the ball over and give Armagh a slender one point advantage. The sides levelled when Raymond Galligan slotted over from the 45 metre line.
Rain turned to snow as Nugent and O’Neill traded scores with Lynch and McKiernan. It seemed neither side would earn then victory, but Rory Grugan’s 72nd minute free nugded Armagh ahead by one.
Then McQuillan ensured victory, tapping into an empty net after Galligan joined the attack in search of an equaliser.
Cavan Team: Raymond Galligan 0-1 (1f), Evan Finnegan, Killian Brady, Luke Fortune, Oisin Kiernan, Chris Conroy, Jason McLoughlin, James Smith 0-1, Michael Argue, Oisin Brady, Gearoid McKiernan 0-6 (2f), Cian Madden, Conor Madden 0-1, Paddy Lynch 0-2 (2f), Ryan O’Neill. Subs: Thomas Galligan for R. O’Neill, Killian Clarke for M. Argue, Gerard Smith for E. Finnegan, Cormac O’Reilly for C. Madden, Jack McKenna for C. Madden, Caoimhin O’Reilly for C. Conroy, Benjamin Kelly for P. Lynch, Fionntan O’Reilly for O. Brady, Paul Smith for J. McKenna.
Armagh Team: Blaine Hughes, Ross Finn, Aaron McKay, Ciaran Mackin 0-1, Connaire Mackin, Greg McCabe 0-1, Jarly Og Burns 0-2, Stephen Sheridan 0-1, Niall Grimley, Jemar Hall 0-2, Aidan Nugent 0-1, Stefan Campbell, Rory Grugan 0-2 (2f), Rian O’Neill 0-1, Aidan Forker 0-1. Subs: Conor Turbitt for A. Forker, Ross McQuillan 1-0 for J. Hall, James Morgan for G. McCabe, Justin Kieran for S. Sheridan, Ciaron O’Hanlon for S. Campbell, Ciaran Higgins for R. Finn, Niall Rowland for J. Burns.