Armagh and Cavan to replay semi-final after thrilling draw in Ulster Senior football championship tie

Armagh's Niall Grimley with Padraig Faulkner and Conor Brady of Cavan
Armagh's Niall Grimley with Padraig Faulkner and Conor Brady of Cavan

Cavan 0-17 Armagh 1-14 (aet)

Armagh and Cavan must play out their Ulster Senior Football Championship final next Sunday after drawing on Sunday. The counties will meet at Clones after they played out a 1-14 to 0-17 draw after a thrilling game.

Cavan's Gerard Smith and Jarlath Og Burns of Armagh

Cavan's Gerard Smith and Jarlath Og Burns of Armagh

Armagh looked set for victory as Jarlath Og Burns’ goal helped them go four ahead in the second half.

However, Cavan refused to yield and two sensational points by veteran sub Cian Mackey helped them force extra-time in spite of Ciaran Brady’s sending off.

Mackey again was Cavan’s hero as he hit the final equaliser in extra-time.

Once again, Armagh’s failure to hold on to a lead was evident after their inability to see off Down in normal time two weeks ago, before eventually triumphing in extra-time.

But Kieran McGeeney’s side will have another chance in a Clones double-header which will also feature the All-Ireland qualifier between Monaghan and Fermanagh.

The opening 10-minute period of extra-time failed to produce a score before Stefan Campbell produced a boost of speed to fist Armagh ahead.

That one point seemed set to be enough to secure Armagh’s final spot against Donegal or Tyrone on June 22, but Mackey’s 88th-minute score levelled proceedings once more after the Orchard men’s attempt to play keep-ball broke down as Conor Rehill forced a turnover.

Another Cavan substitute Oisin Pierson and Mackey both had difficult last-gasp chances to break Armagh hearts but were off target.

Goalscorer Burns will feel that he should have hit the net as early as the second minute as he fired wide with only Raymond Galligan to beat after being set up by late inclusion Mark Shields and the impressive Aidan Forker.

It was the only real goal chance in the first period as there was never more than a point between the teams.

Burns recovered from his missed goal chance to slot over two superb efforts from play as Cavan’s main physical presence Gearoid McKiernan was well contained by Armagh early on.

The two Burns’ scores put Armagh 0-4 to 0-3 ahead after 16 minutes before Conor Moynagh scored Cavan’s first point from play with a delightful effort with the outside of his right boot.

Points by the lively Jemar Hall and free-taker Rian O’Neill nudged Armagh ahead again before the break only for McKiernan to break clear of Shields and Niall Grimley to set up substitute Christopher Conroy for a levelling score.

It was more of the same immediately after half-time as Paul Hughes and Hall efforts were cancelled by a superb Dara McVeety effort and a Niall Murray effort before Armagh appeared to have struck a decisive blow as Burns coolly stroked to the net on 41 minutes after a brilliant move involving Forker and Jamie Clarke.

Cavan looked in serious trouble a minute later as O’Neill’s free extended Armagh’s lead to four which was still the margin in the 48th minute after Forker’s free responded to Murray’s latest successful place kick.

The Breffnimen - helped by two superb points from substitute Stephen Murray - reduced the margin to two with 12 minutes left but they then seemed to have sustained a terminal blow as substitute Ciaran Brady received a straight red card for swinging an elbow back into Shields, as the Armagh man challenged him.

Cavan were on terms by the 66th minute as McVeety’s superb effort from play was followed by an even better Mackey score.

Armagh regained the lead a minute later as Clarke notched his only score, But Mackey refused to yield and a point secured extra-time.