Ciarán Brady eyes his passing options having drawn the attentions of Conor Clarke and Mark Smith.

Arva unlock stubborn Lisnaskea defence to secure place in Ulster Final

Damien Donohoe

For the third year in succession the Cavan junior champions will contest the Ulster junior football final after Arva picked up a ten point win against Lisnaskea from Fermanagh on Saturday last. The score line doesn’t reflect the difficulties Arva had in getting over line. Lisnaskea came to make it hard for Arva to score, and they succeeded for long spells.

After Arva’s top scorer Kevin Boucher put his side three points ahead with four minutes remaining in the first half, we had to wait until the 12th minute of the second half for Ciaran Brady to hit the games next score. Finbar O’Reilly’s side amassed 11 wides, dropped five shots short and hit the post once as a result of the 13 players Lisnaskea placed behind the ball while it was in Arva hands.

Arva keeper Cian O’Hara had an easy task for most of the game on kick-outs as Lisnaskea dropped outside the ’45 to give him ample short options but when he needed the longer accurate boot it was used, resulting in great profit. His opposite number Ethan McCaffrey spent more time playing as an out-field than on the goal line as his ball playing ability played a key role in Lisnakea’s intention to retain the ball. The Cavan champions came through the game with the services of resident full-back James Morris who missed the game through suspension and score getter Conal Sheridan through injury which adds to the magnitude of the victory.

John Reihill’s Lisnaskea played with the aid of the wind in the first half kicking into the Rosslea road end of the stadium. Using that wind in every attack they looked to kick long, high ball into their captain Joe McDade at full-forward but youngsters Stephen Sheridan with a little help from Dylan Maguire dealt with the danger only giving up one point from play in the first half.

Kevin Boucher opened the scoring on the fourth minute after a great solo run by Barry Donnelly saw him fouled on the 13 meter line. Johnny McCabe returning to the starting line-up double the boys in blue advantage on the seventh minute as he swung over a point from 30 meters on his left foot in the smallest of shooting windows.

Referee Mark Loughran awarded Arva a couple of frees as the Lisnaskea tackling got a little sloppy, but those fouls were at the very edge of the scoring zone and Arva failed to covert either chance. With a third attempt for Boucher placed on the 13 meter line close to the left sideline, he showed nerves of steel in raising a white flag for the score of the half.

Arva were punished for giving away the ball on the 13th minute with Joe McDade winning his first ball of the game but showing his threat as he sent it straight over the bar for their opener. As the game entered the second quarter some small gaps began to appear in the Lisnaskea defence.

After an excellent turnover won by Charlie Madden the ball was worked to ball carrying specialist Barry Donnelly who broke through on goal but his shot under pressure rose above the crossbar for a point. With Arva up by three and half-time eight minutes away Justin McDade gathered one of the long balls sent forward and won a free 30 meters from goal which he sent over the bar.

With the wind picking up and dropping at different stages in the Arva faces in attack, Kevin Boucher cleverly decided to go short with a free before taking the return and fisting it over the bar to give them a three point lead. That lead could have been scratched out before the short whistle sounded as Lisnaskea corner forward broke through on goal but his shot was well saved by Cian O’Hara to maintain Arva’s lead at the break.

Arva now with the aid of the wind in the second half made plenty of shooting errors before Ciaran Brady finally sent over a long range point to give them a four point lead after 12 second half minutes. In the final quarter Arva’s tactic of moving the Lisnaskea defense from side to side began to pay off as Triston Noach Hoffmann sent over his first of the game.

With 12 minutes remaining a Hyden Lynch free sent over the bar signaled a change in Lisnakea’s tactics. A full press on Cian O’Hara’s kick-out created a different challenge but the difference wasn’t what Lisnaskea expected as he drilled the ball long over the press resulting in a fourth point for Kevin Boucher.

Boucher added two frees after he and Barry Donnelly were fouled, giving Arva a commanding seven point lead with two minutes of ordinary time remaining. A Justin McDade point from play a minute later was Lisnakea’s final cheer of the day as Arva added a goal to their tally from another excellent long kick-out by O’Hara with Peter Morris finishing to the net. A 45 metre free by Boucher four minutes into injury-time placed the cherry on top for Arva as they march on to face Blackhill from Monaghan in next Saturday’s final.

Arva team: Cian O’Hara, Dylan Maguire, Stephen Sheridan, Charlie Madden, Thomas Brady, Finbar McAvinue, Danny Ellis, Ciaran Brady(0-1), Tristan Noach Hoffmann(0-1), Thomas Partington, Barry Donnelly(0-1), Jonathan McCabe(0-1), Ciaran Stanley, Kevin Boucher(0-7,5f), Peter Morris(1-0). Subs used: Paul Cassidy for B Donnelly, Bryan McEntee for P Morris, Danny Conneely for T Partington.

Lisnaskea team: Ethan McCaffrey, Mark Kelly, Conor Clifford, Mark Smyth, Dylan Tierney, Liam Mullarkey, Kai McGoldrick, Conor Clarke, Damian Og Kelly, Sean Keenan, Joe McDade(0-1), Paul Mohan, Justin McDade(0-2,1f), Mark Little, Hayden Lynch(0-1f). Subs used: Kevin Smyth for L Mullarkey, Aidan Keenan for P Mohan,