Cavan 0-13 Fermanagh 1-9
Cavan booked an Ulster SFC semi-final date with either Donegal or Antrim with a narrow but deserved win over Fermanagh at Breffni Park.
It was Seanie Johnston’s deadly finishing which proved the difference between the sides in front of 12,231 spectators.
The Erne men went into this derby tie seeking their first Ulster Championship win over their neighbours in 95 years, but the jinx continues to torment them.
There was only a point in it at the end, but Cavan were deserving winners of a game which has landed them with a semi-final crack at either Donegal or Antrim.
Fermanagh struggled to make any headway while playing with the wind in the opening half, but did get a lifeline in the form of a seventh minute Eamonn Maguire goal, punched home past a helpless James Reilly from Daryl Keenan’s quickly taken free out on the left wing.
It was Tommy Carr’s Cavan who had shown all the early enterprise and hunger, easing ahead with points from Seanie Johnston, who scored his side’s first two points, one from a free, Martin Reilly, from a ‘45’, Cian Mackey and Sean Brady.
The Erne men looked nervous and lacked the composure that had carried them through a preliminary round tie against Down.
Even with the wind in their backs, they chose to play wing forwards Ciaran McElroy and Mark Little in withdrawn roles, and moments of uncertainty were highlighted by the defensive hesitancy that allowed Brady in to regain the lead in the 24th minute.
Johnston, who had earlier pulled up with a twinge from the hamstring injury which had threatened his participation, steered over another free, but following a number of disappointing efforts, the Erne men finally began to find the range late in th lamnf, and scores from Ryan Carson, daryl Keenan and wing back Ryan McCloskey lifted their challenge.
Cavan held a narrow 0-8 to 1-4 lead at the break, and gave their long-suffering fans further cause for hope when they stretched the advantage through Johnston and Reilly early in the second half.
Fermanagh’s famous work ethic was now under serious scrutiny, and it was challenged by the willingness of Cavan’s defender, particularly Michael Brides and Dermot Sheridan, to put their bodies on the line.
Even the introduction of Barry Owens for his first appearance of the season 16 minutes from the end failed to inspire an Erne revival
Instead, it was Cavan who tightened their grip as Fermanagh’s old failing came back to haunt them, with a handful of straightforward frees sent wide of the posts by Daryl Keenan and Maguire.
Mark Little and Carson finally found the range, and the difference was down to a mere two points.
Owens punched over another to narrow the gap to one, but a Johnston gem, floated over from wide on the left, but man of the match Johnston clinched it with a gem from wide on the left.
Cavan: J Reilly; M Hannon, D Sheridan, M Brides; J McCutcheon, E Keating, P O'Reilly; N Walsh, C Galligan; S Brady (0-2), R Flanagan, C Mackey (0-2); S Johnston (0-5, 2f), R Cullivan, M Reilly (0-4, 3f, 1 ‘45’).
Subs: R Dunne for P Reilly (63), D Givney for Galligan (63), L Reilly for Brady (66), G Pierson for Mackey (71)
Fermanagh: C Breen; N Bogue, S Lyons, H Brady, R McCluskey (0-1), S McDermott, T McElroy, M McGrath, J Sherry, R Keenan, C McElroy, M Little (0-3, 2f), D Keenan (0-1, f), R Carson (0-3, 1f), E Maguire (1-0).
Subs: P Sherry for Lyons (31), M Murphy for D Keenan (43), B Owens (0-1) for J Sherry (54), D Kelly for McDermott (56), D Kille for R Keenan (68)
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).