Cavan 0-13 Fermanagh 1-13
Fermanagh stunned Cavan with a first ever championship win at Breffni Park to set up an Ulster SFC semi-final with Monaghan.
Ryan Carson’s winning goal six minutes from the end of a dour contest secured a sweet win for an Erne side that went into the game on the back of a miserable NFL campaign which ended in relegation to Division Four.
But on the night, they battled, harassed, ran and supported in true Erne fashion, and got their reward.
Carson may have been the goal-scoring hero, but the workrate of Daryl Keenan, Mark Little, Marty McGrath and Barry Mulrone was vital to this success, as was the defensive display of Ryan McCloskey, who held Cavan dangerman Seanie Johnston to two points from play.
Despite David Givney’s superb display in midfield, Cavan could never shake off their gutsy opponents, and after conceding the late killer goal were unable to find a way through a packed Erne defence.
Fermanagh looked lively in the opening stages, and eased ahead through Paul Ward and Ryan Carson.
They should have been four clear, but Carson and Rory Gallagher fluffed straightforward frees, and instead found themselves pegged back to 0-2 each by the 12th minute.
With Givney making a big impact in midfield, Cavan recovered from that shaky start, and points from Givney and Cian Mackey brought them level.
Full forward Seanie Johnston was well shackled by Ryan McCloskey, but the Breffni men had others with an eye for the posts, and they led by 0-5 to 0-3 by the 22nd minute after wing back Paul Brady, Gareth ‘Nesty’ Smith, the former Dublin U21 player, and Michael Brennan had all found the target.
Ward brought his tally to three, and could have had a goal with his third effort, taking the safer option when sent clear by Gallagher’s lay-off.
A couple of Michael Brennan points kept Tommy Carr’s men ticking over nicely, but Fermanagh finished the first half strongly and points from Chris O’Brien and Gallagher left them trailing by just one at the break, 0-8 to 0-7, with wind advantage still to come.
O’Brien and Daryl Keenan were on target to ease Fermanagh back in front, and a tight contest was swinging slowly but surely in their direction.
Cavan were restricted to breakaway attacks, and a superb Johnston effort got the lead back for them.
Fermanagh substitute Seamus Quigley lifted his side with a massive point off his first kick, but still Cavan, and Givney, refused to surrender, and the midfielder brought the sides level for the seventh time seven minutes from the end.
But there were always problems at the back for the Breffni men, and one slip too many was punished when Carson latched onto a long ball, wriggled past Eoin McGuigan and planted the ball in the bottom corner of the net.
Cavan: F Reilly, D Sheridan, T Corr, M Cahill, P Brady (0-1), E McGuigan, A Clarke, C Galligan, D Givney (0-2), R Flanagan, G Smith (0-4, 2f, 1 ’45), M McKeever, C Mackey (0-1), S Johnston (0-3, 1f), M Brennan (0-2).
Subs: M Hannon for Clarke (41), M Reilly for Brennan (54), L Mulvey for McKeever (60)
Fermanagh: Ronan Gallagher, N Bogue, S Lyons, B Mulrone, D Ward, R McCloskey, T McElroy, J Sherry, M McGrath, D Keenan (0-1), R Carson (1-3, 0-1f), M Little, P Ward (0-3), Rory Gallagher (0-2, 2f), C O’Brien (0-2).
Subs: S Quigley (0-2) for Rory Gallagher (48), D Kelly for D Ward (62), C Flaherty for Little (64)
Referee: P Fox (Westmeath).