Dr McKenna Cup
Cavan 1-14 Armagh 1-9
BY SHAUN CASEY
CAVAN cruised to the semi-finals of the McKenna Cup with a convincing five-point over Armagh, who took full advantage of the unlimited substitute rule and fielded an extremely inexperienced team for the second half.
A rake of Armagh chances at half time, 11 in total, diminished their chances of making the last four as they only scored once in the second half, a goal after 30-minutes, although household names like Rian O’Neill, Jemar Hall and Connaire Mackin did enter the fray at half time.
It was all square at the break, with Armagh the best team on show after a shaky opening quarter, but Cavan were miles better after the teams swapped sides. The conditions on the night were horrible and denied any hopes of free-flowing football.
It was a slow start to the game as Cavan held the ball for three and a half minutes after winning the throw in, with Armagh retreating into the defensive shell and the hosts were quite content to play keep ball outside the screen.
The first shot was brilliantly blocked down by Greg McCabe, but eventually Cavan opened the scoring through centre half back Dara McVeety, who split the posts with a score that was well worth the wait.
Armagh replied within 30 seconds, when referee Diarmuid Boylan granted Rory Grugan a free for some off the ball holding. The Ballymacnab playmaker shifted the ball inside to Aidan Nugent, and the Armagh captain, aided by the loss of footing from his marker, fired over an equaliser.
Cavan stormed ahead in the next play, with Martin Reilly, now in his 16th year of inter-county action, edging the Breffni Blues back in front after another prolonged piece of possession based football.
On the restart, a mishit Ethan Rafferty kickout was collected by full forward Ryan O’Neill, and he made the most of Rafferty’s misfortune to fire home the first goal of the evening. Raymond Galligan swung over a gorgeous score and suddenly Cavan were five to the good.
Armagh soon narrowed the gap once again, with Conor O’Neill, Nugent and Grugan (free) all raising white flags to keep Kieran McGeeney’s men in contention. Galligan, making his 100th competitive appearance for Cavan, effortlessly eased over another, which was cancelled out by Armagh full forward Conor Turbitt.
Stefan Campbell rattled over a great score, bursting off the shoulder of Joe Sheridan and clipping the ball between the posts, while Dara McVeety and Grugan exchanged dead ball efforts.
Armagh could have gone ahead, but the brutal weather conditions went against them. Grugan played through Jarly Og Burns but his decision to bounce the ball with the goal at his mercy backfired, and he was forced to settle for a point.
Grugan’s third put the Orchard County ahead for the first time in the game but Oisin Brady curled over a super score from a free to ensure the sides entered the half time break all square, 0-9 to 1-6.
Second half scores from man of the match Dara McVeety’s, Brady (two), Cian Madden, Tiarnan Madden, debutant Brian O’Rourke (two) and Brandon Boylan gave Mickey Graham’s men a comfortable eight-point cushion.
Armagh eventually grabbed their first score of the second half, netting 30 minutes into the second period to close the gap. Newbie Oisin Conaty, making just his second appearance following his debut last Wednesday evening against Antrim, fired a powerful shot to the net, leaving Galligan with no chance.
It did little to impact the result as Cavan march on to the next round and they’ll take on Derry on Saturday evening, in Breffni Park once again, with the prize a place in the McKenna Cup final for the winner.
Rory Grugan 0-3 (3f), Oisin Conaty 1-0, Aidan Nugent 0-2, Conor O’Neill 0-1, Conor Turbitt 0-1, Stefan Campbell 0-1, Jarly Og Burns 0-1.
Dara McVeety 0-3 (1f), Ryan O’Neill 1-0, Oisin Brady 0-3 (3f), Raymond Galligan 0-2 (2f), Brian O’Rourke 0-2, Martin Reilly 0-1, Cian Madden 0-1, Tiarnan Madden 0-1, Brandon Boylan 0-1.
Ethan Rafferty, Greg McCabe, Aaron McKay, Ross Finn, Conor O’Neill, Barry McCambridge, Jarly Og Burns, Stefan Campbell, Stephen Sheridan, Joe Sheridan, Callum Cumiskey, Tiernan Kelly, Rory Grugan, Conor Turbitt, Aidan Nugent.
Subs: Shea Magill for E. Rafferty, Connaire Mackin for R. Finn, Niall Smith for C. O’Neill, Jemar Hall for B. McCambridge, Ross McQuillan for J. Burns, Rian O’Neill for S. Campbell, Niall McConville for C. Cumiskey, Cian McConville for T. Kelly, Shane McPartland for C. Turbitt, Conor Grimley for A. Nugent, Kieran Doyle for A. McKay Lee Rice for G. McCabe, Oisin Conaty for S. Sheridan.
Raymond Galligan, John Cooke, Conor Moynagh, Evan Finnegan, Ciaran Brady, Dara McVeety, Tiarnan Madden, Killian Clarke, Enda Maguire, Gerard Smith, Oisin Brady, Oisin Kiernan, Martin Reilly, Ryan O’Neill, Cian Madden.
Subs: Brendan Boylan for O. Kiernan, David Wilson for J. Cooke, Ryan Donohoe for E. Maguire, Brian O’Rourke for M. Reilly, David Brady for R. O’Neill, Conor Rehill for C. Brady, Oisin Kiernan for C. Moynagh, Tristan Noack Hofmann for K. Clarke