Armagh set up semi-final clash with Down

Cavan 0-13 Armagh 0-17

Armagh set up an Ulster SFC semi-final clash with Down with their first ever Breffni Park win over Cavan.

And it was the old-timers who laid the foundations for this latest Orchard success.

Paul McGrane was imperious at midfield, full back Francie Bellew made a triumphant return from injury and Stevie McDonnell was simply irresistible.

Armagh led by four points at the break, and despite a spirited challenge from the home side in the second half, the sides were still separated by four at the final whistle.

Armagh built upon the solid midfield platform provided by McGrane and Kieran Toner, with Martin O’Rourke winning an enormous amount of breaking ball, and eased into a three points lead through Stephen and Aaron Kernan, Ronan Clarke and Paul McGrane.

Cavan dangerman Seanie Johnston was blotted out of the game by Andy Mallon, while Dermot McCabe’s deployment at full forward failed to have the desired effect.

In a bid to reverse the Orchard midfield dominance, Breffni boss Donal Keoghan introduced Lorcan Mulvey and brought McCabe out to the central area.

Cian Mackey, Martin Reilly and Mark McKeever had all hit the target from play by that stage, but the switches failed to turn the tide, and Armagh dominance continued through the second quarter, with Stephen McDonnell landing three points, one of them from a ‘45’.

A Johnston free and another Mackey effort kept Cavan in touch, but at the halfway stage they trailed by 0-9 to 0-5.

Armagh continued to call the shots after the restart, and a golden goal chance was spurned by Stephen Kernan, who somehow managed to strike a post with the net at his mercy, after exchanging passes with Clarke.

But Johnston finally managed to get the space to fist his first score from play, and with 10 minutes played in the second half, just three points separated the sides.

Cavan goalkeeper James Reilly, who had already denied Clarke, produced another superb stop to thwart McDonnell and keep the Breffni men very much in the game as the contest entered its final quarter.

But Armagh were able to break away for important scores from Kieran Toner, Aaron Kernan, and McDonnell, with his sixth.

Cavan: J Reilly, M Hannon, R Dunne, P O’Reilly, B Watters, A Forde, M Cahill, M McDonald, D McCabe (0-3, 2f), M Reilly (0-1), M McKeever (0-1), C Mackey (0-2), S Johnston (0-6, 3f), R Flanagan, J O Reilly.

Subs: L Mulvey for McDonald, S Brady for J O’Reilly, E O’Reilly for M Reilly, McDonald for Mulvey

Armagh: P Hearty, A Mallon, F Bellew, F Moriarty, C Vernon (0-1), A O’Rourke, C McKeever, P McGrane (0-1), K Toner (0-1), A Kernan (0-2, 1f), S Kernan (0-3), M O’Rourke, S McDonnell (0-6, 1f, 1 ‘45’), R Clarke (0-2), P McKeever (0-1).

Subs: T Kernan for S Kernan,B Mallon for M O’Rourke

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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