Antrim 0-13 Cavan 1-7
Antrim will appear in the Ulster football final for the first time in 39 long years, following their shock win over Cavan at Clones.
This three-point success may have been an upset, but no-one will dare begrudge the Saffrons their place in the sun on July 19, for they played Tommy Carr’s Cavan off the park and should have won by a much greater margin.
Four Paddy Cunningham points and two each from Michael McCann and Sean Burke did the trick for Liam Bradley’s men, but they were forced to hang on after substitute David Givney bagged a late Cavan goal.
Antrim supporters remained in the Gerry Arthurs stand, and on the famous Hill, long after their heroes departed the scene, as they celebrated what they hope is a major breakthrough for Antrim football.
Seanie Johnston hit the opening point in the fourth minute, but his attacking colleagues hit a rash of wides in the first 10 minutes.
Once Antrim settled into the game, they displayed more composure. Sean Burke raced through to punch over a point, and Thomas McCann made ground out on the right before lofting the lead score on 10 minutes.
Johnston popped up at the other end with another score, but a couple of frees were sliced wide by Martin Reilly.
Terry O’Neill, deployed as an extra defender, burst forward to get on the end of a move involving Tony Scullion and Michael McCann and shoot between the posts, and Michael McCann converted the free that made it 0-4 to 0-2.
Antrim had two goal chances. First Kevin Brady sent Sean Burke clear, but his shot lacked conviction and was easily dealt with by James Reilly.
Then Tomas McCann broke clear, but once again Reilly was quickly off his line to deny the corner forward.
The Breffni men had fallen four behind before they finally began to show some conviction, late in the half, shooting the last three scores.
Johnson converted a free, before others stepped up, with Martin Reilly and Ray Cullivan hitting the target to leave just one between the sides at the break, Antrim ahead by 0-7 to 0-6.
Liam Bradley’s side bossed possession against their disjointed opponents, and they were given a huge lift when midfielder Aodhan Gallagher powered through the middle to shoot an inspirational point.
That score made it 0-10 to 0-6, and as the game slipped into its final quarter, Cavan were already beginning to look demoralised. They had failed to score in the second half, and their opponents grew in confidence by the minute.
Now it was double scores, centre back Justin Crozier having pushed up to curl over a point.
But Cavan were given a lifeline when substitute David Givney pounced for a goal in the 58th minute.
Larry Reilly’s point to narrowed the gap to two, but despite shooting a rash of wides, Antrim held their nerve for a place in the decider against the All-Ireland champions.
Antrim: P Graham, C Brady, A McClean, K O'Boyle, T Scullion, J Crozier (0-1), J Loughrey (0-1), N McKeever, A Gallagher (0-1), T O'Neill (0-1), K Brady, P Cunningham (0-4, 3f), S Burke (0-2), M McCann (0-2, 1f), T McCann (0-1).
Subs: K Niblock for McKeever (59), C Close for K Brady (64)
Cavan: J Reilly, M Hannon, D Sheridan, M Brides, J McCutcheon, E Keating, P O’Reilly, N Walsh, C Galligan, S Brady, R Flanagan, C Mackey, S Johnston (0-4, 2f), R. Cullivan (0-1), M Reilly (0-1).
Subs: P Brady for P Reilly (20), R Dunne for McCutcheon (40), L Reilly (0-1) for S Brady (44), D Givney (1-0) for Mackey (53), J O’Reilly for Keating (62)
Referee: J Bannon (Longford).