Cavan 2-16 Armagh 0-14

Cavan progressed to an Ulster SFC semi-final against Tyrone, defeating Armagh by eight points at Kingspan Breffni Park

A Dara McVeety goal, along with five Seanie Johnston points and three from Gearoid McKiernan had Cavan ahead by 1-09 to 0-07 at the break, with Ethan Rafferty hitting four for Armagh.

Martin Reilly netted a penalty eight minutes into the second half, while an Armagh penalty was missed by Stefan Campbell, who top-scored with eight points. Johnston finished with seven.

In front of a crowd of 15,263, Ethan Rafferty and Campbell were on target early on as the Orchard men eased into a 0-3 to 0-01 led inside the opening ten minutes

But Seanie Johnston, playing his first championship game for the Breffni men in five years, following a spell with Kildare, knocked over a couple of placed balls to bring the sides level.

Ciaran McKeever halted Geariod McKiernan’s driving run with a well executed block, but goalkeeper Raymond Galligan drilled the resultant ’45 sweetly between the posts to put the home side in front.

Skipper McKiernan was a dominant figure around the middle, and found acres of space through the middle to gallop through for his second point, Cavan ahead by 0-06 to 0-03 at the end of the opening quarter.

They were able to stifle Armagh’s attacking efforts by fortifying their defence with players who could break with pace from deep once possession was turned over.

Dara McVeety excelled in this role, and it was he who, having started an attack deep in his own half, popped up on the edge of the Armagh square to take Martin Reilly’s pass and slot low to the net from close range.

That was a defining score, putting seven points between the sides, and although Armagh did hit three of the last four points of the half, they were facing a huge task.

Rafferty, Stefan Campbell and Tony Kernan hit the target, but Kieran McGeeney’s side trailed by 1-09 to 0-07 at the break.

Three of Armagh’s starting forwards had been replaced by the time the second half got under way, and they fell further behind in the 44th minute when Reilly slotted a penalty to the bottom corner of the net after Cian Mackey had been fouled going for goal.

Armagh, now eight points behind, responded positively, and Campbell fired over three points to give them a glimmer of hope.

And they were awarded a penalty for Killian Clarke’s foul on Campbell, but Campbell’s kick was saved by Raymond Galligan.

Cavan countered immediately for Johnson and Jack Brady to kick points, stretching the lead to eight points, when moments earlier it should have been trimmed back to three.

Armagh had nothing more to give, although Campbell did add another couple of placed balls to his tally, but he was one of just three Orchard players to get their names on the score-sheet. Less than half of their total came from play.

Cavan: R Galligan (0-01, ’45), P Faulkner, K Clarke, F Dunne, F Flanagan, C Moynagh (0-01), N Murray, T Corr, G McKiernan (0-03), D McVeety (1-01),  C Mackey, M Reilly (1-00, pen), D Givney (0-01), M Argue, S Johnston (0-07, 4f).

Subs: C Brady for Murray, E Keating for Argue, J Brady (0-02) for Keating (BC), K Brady for Faulkner, G Smith for Johnston, L Buchanan for McKiernan

Armagh: P Courtney, J Morgan, C Vernon, M Shields, A Mallon, A Forker, C McKeever, B Donaghy, E Rafferty (0-04, 3f), R Grugan, T Kernan (0-02), C O’Hanlon, C Watters, S Campbell (0-08, 3f, 2 ’45), G McParland.

Subs; A Findon for O’Hanlon, M McKenna for Watters, J Hall for McParland, S Connell for Vernon, J McElroy for Rafferty, S Hefforn for McElroy (BC)