Cavan 0-12 Armagh 1-14
Impressive Armagh ran out easy winners over Cavan in this Ulster SFC quarter-final at a rain-sodden Kingspan Breffni.
The Orchard were superior in every line. Led by the razor-sharp Conor Turbitt, they led all the way, stretching their advantage to nine when Ben Crealey palmed in a goal at the back post just before half-time.
Armagh, who were very close to an All-Ireland semi-final last year, came in as warm favourites but the sense was that this one would go to the wire, with the hosts needing to make an Ulster final in order to secure a Sam Maguire place.
Adding to the sense that this one would be close was the fact that both sides will start next season in Division Two and while the Orchard have made incremental progress, Cavan boasted their most experienced and decorated squad in decades, with up to 10 of the panel above, or closing in on, the 100-cap milestone.
However, the 2020 Ulster champions are left with a lot more questions than answers after this collapse.
Armagh kicked no wides in the first half (Cavan finished with 15 at full-time) as Turbitt landed a succession of quality scores, midfielder Shane McPartlan also chipping in with a cracker as they opened a 1-10 to 0-6 half-time lead which didn’t flatter them.
Cavan ate into it with a couple of early second-half scores but their shooting was awful – and Armagh’s defending was superbly disciplined, too.
Scores from Turbitt (two) and Greg McCabe, after a massive Ethan Rafferty kick-out bypassed midfield, eased any nerves and while Cavan pressed hard late on, they couldn’t make any significant inroads and the visitors won pulling up with a bit in hand.
CAVAN: R Galligan (0-1, 45); K Clarke, P Faulkner, J McLoughlin; Ciarán Brady, O Kiernan, G Smith; G McKiernan, J Smith; Conor Brady (0-1), D McVeety, J McCabe; Cian Madden (0-2), P Lynch (0-4, two marks), O Brady (0-1).
Subs: N Carolan for McLoughlin (29 mins); Conor Madden for Kiernan (58); C Moynagh for Smith (63); B Boylan for Ciarán Brady (68).
ARMAGH: E Rafferty (0-1, 45); C O’Neill (0-1), A McKay, A Forker; G McCabe (0-1), C Mackin, J Burns; B Crealey (1-0), S McPartlan (0-1); S Campbell, J Hall (0-1), J Duffy; R Grugan (0-1, free), A Murnin (0-1), C Turbitt (0-7, two frees, one mark).
Subs: R O’Neill for Hall (44 mins); A Nugent for Murnin (54); S Sheridan for Crealey (58); C Comiskey for Duffy (65); C Higgins for S McPartlan (69).
Referee: P Faloon (Down).