By Francis Mooney
Cavan 2-16 Armagh 0-14
Cavan’s power and pace ran Armagh ragged at Kingspan Breffni Park, where Terry Hyland’s men romped to an eight-point win to set up an Ulster SFC semi-final clash with Tyrone.
Flying wing forwards Dara McVeety and Martin Reilly hit the goals that settled the game long before the finish.
The home side’s counter-attacking game worked a treat, and a static Orchard side was unable to contain the runners who created and executed a hatful of scores.
Seanie Johnston returned after a five year absence from championship football with his native county to kick seven points, helping Cavan to a five points interval lead with some well taken scores.
Armagh made a promising start, with points from Ethan Rafferty and Stefan Campbell helping them to a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage inside the opening 10 minutes.
But Seanie Johnston knocked over a couple of frees to add to his opening score from play, bringing the sides level in the 14th minute.
Gearoid McKiernan’s ball-winning prowess, and his driving runs through the middle, tested a nervous Armagh defence, and he powered through for three eye-catching points.
Imposing himself on the contest throughout, he was one of the key figures in a Cavan side that found a potent mix of physical power and searing athleticism.
McVeety, Reilly and Cian Mackey tracked back tirelessly, turning defence to attack and finding space on the flanks to stretch an over-worked Armagh rearguard.
McVeety excelled in this role, starting and finishing the move that gave Cavan their first goal in the 25th minute.
He got on the end of Reilly’s pass to hit the net from close range, with McKiernan adding a point for a seven points lead, and the Breffni men were well on their way.
Rafferty, Stefan Campbell and Tony Kernan hit the target, but Kieran McGeeney’s side trailed by 1-9 to 0-7 at the break.
Armagh fell further behind in the 44th minute when Reilly slotted a penalty to the bottom corner of the net after Cian Mackey had been fouled going for goal, sent through by impressive centre back Conor Moynagh, who pushed forward relentlessly throughout the second half.
Armagh, now eight points behind, responded positively, and Campbell fired over three points to give them a glimmer of hope.
And they were awarded a penalty for Killian Clarke’s foul on Campbell, but Campbell’s kick was saved by Raymond Galligan.
Cavan countered immediately for Johnson and Jack Brady to kick points, stretching the lead to eight points, when moments earlier it should have been trimmed back to three.
Campbell did add another couple of placed balls to his tally, but he was one of just three Orchard players to get their names on the score-sheet. Less than half of their total came from play.
Cavan: R Galligan (0-1, ’45), P Faulkner, K Clarke, F Dunne, F Flanagan, C Moynagh (0-1), N Murray, T Corr, G McKiernan (0-3), D McVeety (1-1), C Mackey, M Reilly (1-0, pen), D Givney (0-1), M Argue, S Johnston (0-7, 4f).
Subs: C Brady for Murray, E Keating for Argue, J Brady (0-2) for Keating (BC), K Brady for Faulkner, G Smith for Johnston, L Buchanan for McKiernan
Armagh: P Courtney, J Morgan, C Vernon, M Shields, A Mallon, A Forker, C McKeever, B Donaghy, E Rafferty (0-4, 3f), R Grugan, T Kernan (0-2), C O’Hanlon, C Watters, S Campbell (0-8, 3f, 2 ’45), G McParland.
Subs; A Findon for O’Hanlon, M McKenna for Watters, J Hall for McParland, S Connell for Vernon, J McElroy for Rafferty, S Hefforn for McElroy (BC)
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).