Armagh win it at the death

Armagh 0-13 Cavan 0-11

Armagh 0-13 Cavan 0-11

Armagh's legendary instinct for survival applied a sensational finish to quite a remarkable Ulster Football Championship semi-final at Clones.

Cavan, forced to play the entire game with just 14 men following the dismissal of midfielder Pearse McKenna inside the opening minute, played like men inspired and came close to creating a major upset.

Eamonn Coleman, whose tactical masterstrokes had demolished Down's challenge in the previous round, was in the end outsmarted by his old friend and adversary Joe Kernan, whose second half substitutions gave his team the spark it needed.

Brian Mallon came in and scored two crucial points, and a big Orchard finish also saw Diarmuid Marsden and Kevin McElvanna come off the bench to shoot sweet scores.

Cavan, ahead by two points with 10 minutes to play, had a golden chance to sink their opponents, but Paul Hearty pulled off a superb save from Gerald Pierson and Michael Brides sent a glorious shot wide.

A heroic Cavan performance won the Breffni men many admirers, their courageous defensive effort stifling Armagh's big-name front men for much of the contest.

Mark McKeever, an inspirational figure at centre back, totally eclipsed Tony McEntee, while Anthony Forde and Darren Rabbitt coped admirably with the twin threat of Steven McDonnell and Ronan Clarke, restricted to a combined total of three points, having destroyed the Monaghan defence with 2-7 in the previous round.

The sending off of Cavan midfielder Pearse McKenna after just 30 seconds for felling Francie Bellew with a left hook was one of the earliest dismissals in the history of the Ulster Championship, but Eamonn Coleman's men battled gamely throughout the first half, and trailed by just a point at the break.

Target men Steven McDonnell and Ronan Clarke were winning lots of possession, but managed just three points against tight-marking Cavan duo Darren Rabbitt and Anthony Forde.

Michael Lyng steered over two frees at the other end, while succession of wides prevented the Orchard men from taking a lead their dominance warranted.

Cavan were level by the 23rd minute when Larry Reilly launched a superb effort from far out on the left wing, before an equally sublime effort from McDonnell eased Armagh back in front.

Gerald Pierson for once managed to escape the clutches of Francie Bellew to equalise again, but a Paddy McKeever free was the prompt response.

And Armagh had a goal disallowed in the dying moments of the half, McKeever penalised for throwing the ball to Oisin McConville, who finished to the net.

Armagh led by 0-5 to 0-4 at the break, but Cavan came back out with fire in the bellies, and by the 12th minute of the second period they led by 0-9 to 0-6, Lyng converting two frees and Pierson squeezing over a point from the most impossible of angles.

Dermot McCabe's switch to midfield was largely responsible for the rousing Breffni flourish, but once Paul McGrane began to impose himself on the central area, the tide started to turn in Armagh's favour.

McConville was twice on target, to level the game by the 67th minute, and although Lyng and McCabe edged Cavan back in front from frees, the impetus gained by the introduction of skipper Kieran McGeeney, Marsden, Mallon and McElvanna was to ensure a forceful Armagh finish.

Marsden and Mallon swung over the all-important points, while Brides and McCabe failed to hit the target.

Armagh: P Hearty, E McNulty, F Bellew, A Mallon, K Hughes, A O'Rourke, A McCann, J Toal, P McGrane, P McKeever (0-1), T McEntee, O McConville (0-5, 3f), S McDonnell (0-2), R Clarke (0-1), M O'Rourke.

Subs: K McElvanna (0-1) for McCann, D Marsden (0-1) for McEntee, K McGeeney for McCann, B Mallon (0-2) for Clarke.

Cavan: E Elliot, C Collins, D Rabbitt, R Donohue, A Forde, A Gaynor, K Crotty, P McKenna, T Crowe, L Reilly (0-3, 1f), M Lyng (0-4, 4f), M McKeever, J O'Reilly, P Reilly, G Pierson (0-3).

Subs: D McCabe (0-1, f) for P Reilly, M Brides for Donohue, S Cole for Crowe, S Johnston for J O'Reilly

Referee: M Monahan (Kildare)

More in this section

CourtsGaaHeathrowPlace: ClonesPerson: Pearse McKennaPerson: Eamonn ColemanPerson: Joe KernanPerson: Brian MallonPerson: Diarmuid MarsdenPerson: Kevin McElvannaPerson: Paul HeartyPerson: Gerald PiersonPerson: Michael BridesPerson: Mark McKeeverPerson: Tony McEnteePerson: Anthony FordePerson: Darren RabbittPerson: Steven McDonnellPerson: Ronan ClarkePerson: Francie BellewPerson: Michael LyngPerson: Larry ReillyPerson: McDonnellPerson: Paddy McKeeverPerson: McKeeverPerson: Oisín McConvillePerson: LyngPerson: PiersonPerson: Dermot McCabePerson: BreffniPerson: Paul McGranePerson: McConvillePerson: McCabePerson: Kieran McGeeneyPerson: MarsdenPerson: MallonPerson: McElvannaPerson: BridesPerson: P HeartyPerson: E McNultyPerson: F BellewPerson: A MallonPerson: K HughesPerson: A O'RourkePerson: A McCannPerson: J ToalPerson: P McGranePerson: P McKeeverPerson: T McEnteePerson: O McConvillePerson: S McDonnellPerson: R ClarkePerson: M O'RourkePerson: K McElvannaPerson: McCannPerson: D MarsdenPerson: McEnteePerson: K McGeeneyPerson: B MallonPerson: ClarkePerson: E ElliotPerson: C CollinsPerson: D RabbittPerson: R DonohuePerson: A FordePerson: A GaynorPerson: K CrottyPerson: P McKennaPerson: T CrowePerson: L ReillyPerson: M LyngPerson: M McKeeverPerson: J O'ReillyPerson: P ReillyPerson: G PiersonPerson: D McCabePerson: M BridesPerson: DonohuePerson: S ColePerson: CrowePerson: S JohnstonPerson: M MonahanEvent: Ulster Football Championship semiEvent: Ulster Football ChampionshipEvent: Ulster championshipOrganisation: ArmaghOrganisation: CavanOrganisation: Orchard
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