Cavan 0-13 Monaghan 0-11

Cavan advanced to an Ulster final against Tyrone by defeating Monaghan in an atrocious game in Clones today.

In a game packed with poor technique, wayward shooting and countless fouls, Cavan just about deserved to advance, despite the fact that their much vaunted forward line never caught fire.

Declan Smith and Darren Farmer (free) landed early scores to get Monaghan off to a good start but Cavan then earned the next six scores in succession, including good points by Larry Reilly and Finbarr Reilly, with Dermot McCabe at midfield the driving force behind them. But McCabe faded from the game after the 20-minute mark and Monaghan, in between kicking nine first-half wides, got themselves back into the game, and trailed at the break by 0-7 to 0-5.

It looked like the standard and tempo of the game was going to rise after the break as Monaghan started like a whirlwind. Points by Thomas Freeman (2), Peter Duffy and Gary Meehan gave them a two-point lead. Indeed Monaghan supporters will have been wondering why Freeman started on the bench, as he was their liveliest forward after being introduced and ended the game with four points from play.

Two vigilant saves by Glen Murphy in goal helped Monaghan preserve their lead; indeed Cavan often appeared to be trying to do the same thing. They shot 15 wides, with their forwards regularly electing to shoot from impossible angles rather than lay the ball off. Finbarr Reilly was at least proving to be accurate from placed balls, and after Anthony Forde and Gary Meehan exchanged points the sides were level with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Finbarr Reilly eventually decided the game with two points in the space of a minute. Thomas Freeman reduced the deficit to the bare minimum with time nearly up, but Cavan sealed the game when McCabe curled an excellent injury-time free over the bar. While they will be very pleased with a semi-final win despite never playing particularly well, Cavan will be painfully aware that they will have to raise the standard of their game considerably if they are to have any chance against Tyrone in the Ulster final.

Filed by Pat Nugent