Armagh edge past Cavan to stay on course for qualification

Barry O’Hagan’s side are now two from two, while Cavan remain pointless

Barry O'Hagan
Barry O'Hagan Armagh U20s manager Barry O'Hagan Picture: Margaret McLaughlin (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )

EirGrid Ulster U20 Football Championship Section B, round two

Armagh 2-9 Cavan 2-7

DESPITE a late Cavan fightback, Armagh U20s held on to take their record to two wins from two games at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds on Wednesday night.

After two points from the impressive Tadgh Grimley helped Armagh race into an early 0-4 to 0-1 lead, three goals in quick succession midway through the first half left the Orchard county in the ascendancy.

The first goal was a Cavan goal, however, which came when Oliver McCrystal played the ball through for Darragh Lovett and he kept his composure, burying the ball into the bottom corner.

Two minutes later, Armagh had a response of their own when Callum O’Neill – who was a thorn in Cavan’s side all night – picked Pearse Blessing out with a stupendous pass. He was brought down in the area, and Armagh captain Gareth Murphy fired the resulting penalty into the top corner.

On 22 minutes, Blessing found the net, when Ruairi O’Brien’s initial shot was blocked by Cillian Brady, but the Crossmaglen midfielder picked up the pieces and fired the rebound into the net.

Armagh led 2-6 to 1-3 at the break and that was pushed out further by two early second-half points from Brendan O’Hagan, son of manager Barry O’Hagan, before Cavan finally got on the scoreboard in the second period via a Lovett free.

A pointed free from Cian Keaney put Armagh under some pressure, but Callum O’Neill popped up with what proved to be an important score 10 minutes from time.

In the dying minutes, Cavan almost pulled off a comeback when Daire Madden hit a point, before Barry Donnelly bundled a messy goal over the line, leaving just two in it in stoppage time.

However, that was as close as Cavan got, and Armagh breathed a heavy sigh of relief, as Conor Curran’s full-time whistle ensured that they held on by their fingernails.

Armagh R Stevens; E Magee, G Murphy (1-0, pen), O Carragher (0-1); F O’Brien, B O’Hagan (0-2, 1f), C O’Neill (0-1); T Grimley (0-2), P Blessing (1-1); P O’Keefe, R O’Brien (0-1), R Duffy (0-1); F Boylan, C McGeough, M Burnett.

Subs A O’Neill for Boylan (40), C Campbell for McGeough (45).

Cavan L Phillingham; O Daly, C Brady, F Shehu; K McCabe, E Hartin, B McGahan (0-1); E Crowe, R Tobin; Michael Smith, O McCrystal, B Donnelly (1-0); Matthew Smith, D Lovett (1-3, 2f), L Reilly.

Subs D Edwards for Michael Smith (HT), C Keaney (0-2, 2f) for Reilly (40), D Madden (0-1) for McCrystal (40), M Costello for Tobin (49), J Tynan for McCabe (57).

Referee Conor Curran (Down)