Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final

May 15th, 2024 | News

Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final

Ulster SFC quarter-final

Paul Fitzpatrick

Tyrone 1-23

Cavan 3-16


Tyrone out-lasted Cavan by a point after extra time in this rip-roaring Ulster Championship quarter-final before a crowd of 9,952 at Kingspan Breffni.

Brian Dooher’s side looked to be cruising when they opened a 1-16 to 1-8 lead 16 minutes into the second half but the hosts threw everything at them, rattling in two goals, as they forced extra time.

Despite their six-point win over Monaghan, Cavan came into this game – a first home championship match against Tyrone since 1983 – as 5/2 underdogs.

Much of that was based on the Blues’ dreadful record against Tyrone since that clash 41 years ago, which represented Cavan’s last win in the fixture.

And while that winless run has been extended, Tyrone were forced to earn it, edging extra time by the odd point in five to advance to meet Donegal.

Tyrone were ahead by 1-10 to 0-4 at half-time in normal time and full value for it. They flooded bodies back and invited Cavan on and when they forced a turnover, they exposed gaps in the home defence, with Darragh Canavan particularly sharp.

After a tense opening six minutes, Cavan opened the scoring with a well-taken Cian Madden effort but the tone was set immediately when, from the resulting kick-out, Tyrone cut Cavan open and Darren McCurry fired over.

The Red Hands were soon in for another half goal chance, this time Michaekl McKernan knocking over, but Cavan landed a huge blow when Oisin Brady and Conor Brady combined to find Madden, who wriggled free to blast to the roof of the net.

That made it 1-1 to 0-2 but, from there till the short whistle, Tyrone dictated the terms and out-scored the hosts by 1-8 to 0-3.

McKernan kicked his second and then found Darragh Canavan, who won and converted a free. A McCurry free left the visitors in front again on minutes and, as the second quarter progressed, Cavan ran out of ideas.

Liam Gray, making his championship debut and his first appearance this season in any competition, rattled the net from close range after Kieran McGeary and Brian Kennedy did well and from there, Tyrone looked comfortable.

Too often, there were defensive mismatches with Cavan forwards Paddy Lynch and Madden finding themselves in the full-back line. Against that, it was home defenders Luke Fortune, Brían O’Connell and Killian Brady who came up with their next three scores from play – but each one had to be chiselled out of granite.

Kennedy, Ruairi Canavan and Darragh Canavan (two in a minute) and Ciaran Daly all registered and by the midway point, Cavan were glad to hear the whistle – but how it all would change.

On the resumption, McKernan opened the scoring before Cavan replied through Lynch and Oisin Brady. The elder Canavan and Lynch traded scored from play, as did Mattie Donnelly and Gerry Smith, but when Tyrone strung together three in succession – the Canavans sandwiching a 50-metre Niall Morgan free – that seemed to be that.

But Cavan had other ideas. With Padraig Hampsey, who had marshalled Lynch well, off on a black card, their subs impressing and the crowd coming to life, Cavan revelled in a chaotic final quarter.

For the second match in succession, Padraig Faulkner blasted to the net; then, Oisin Brady pointed and Niall Carolan gathered at the back post and tucked low past Morgan.

And when Brady curled over the equaliser, the Breffnimen were looking good. Both registered in the closing stages but it fell to Brían O’Connell, who made some vital turnovers as well as scoring 0-2, to fist the equaliser.

In energy-sapping conditions, Darragh Canavan and Niall Devlin scored in the first half of injury time, Tiarnan Madden replied but Tyrone’s high press was rewarded with a Tiernan Quinn free and although Paddy Lynch had a similar effort, Cavan couldn’t find another and, although probing at the death, ran out of time.

Cavan: G O’Rourke, Cian Reilly, K Brady (0-1), B O’Connell (0-2), P Faulkner (1-0), N Carolan (1-0), Conor Brady, L Fortune (0-1), O Kiernan (Denn), Ciaran Brady, G Smith (0-1), O Kiernan (Castlerahan), C Madden (1-1), P Lynch (0-5, 3f), O Brady (0-3)

Subs: J Smith for O Kiernan (Denn, 33 mins), T Madden (0-2) for O Kiernan (Castlerahan), J McLoughlin for L Fortune (both ht), Cormac O’Reilly for C Madden (48), K Clarke for K Brady (61), C Rehill for N Carolan (78), R Donohoe for P Faulkner (79), TN Hofmann for Ciaran Brady (83)

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1f), C Devlin, P Hampsey, M McKernan (0-3), S O’Donnell, M Donnelly (0-1), N Devlin (0-1), B Kennedy (0-1), A Donaghy, C Daly (0-1), K McGeary, L Gray (1-0), D McCurry (0-4, 2f), D Canavan (0-7, 3f), R Canavan (0-2)

Subs: B Cullen (0-1) for K McGeary (53), C McShane for R Canavan (58), J Oguz for A Donaghy (60), M O’Neill for L Gray (66), LMcGarrity for B Kennedy (70), TQuinn (0-1f) for D McCurry (77), C Cush for D Canavan (83), N McCarron for C Devlin (86)

Ref: D Coldrick (Meath)