Minors advance to quarter-finals with win over Antrim

Ulster MFC

Cavan 1-15

Antrim 0-10

Paul Fitzpatrick at Kingspan Breffni

Cavan picked up their first win of the Ulster Minor Championship and secured their passage to the quarter-finals with this merited win over Antrim at Kingspan Breffni.

Against an Antrim side who had shipped a couple of heavy defeats, Cavan put together some lovely passages of play, with Joshua Shehu and Nathan Quigley impressive up front and Oisin Maguire one of the stand-out performers in defence.

While they toiled at times, Cavan improved as the first half wore on and went in at the interval holding a double-scores lead at 0-8 to 0-4.

After a cagey opening spell – Antrim set up defensively, conceding the Cavan kick-out but the hosts were a little ponderous coming out with the ball, leading to quite a bit of lateral play – Cavan opened the scoring when Fiachra Brady found Charlie Fallon, who slotted over.

Antrim recorded three early wides (and hit the upright twice) before they levelled on 11 minutes with an excellent free from midfielder Odhran Doherty.

On a slippery surface with intermittent drizzle, handling was difficult and the ball wasn’t sticking at either end, with lots of turnovers.

As the half wore on, Cavan managed to get Joshua Shehu on more ball and the Ulster Colleges All-Star showed his quality, drawing defenders, winning frees and kicking one outstanding point from play.

He cut in from the wing and laid off for Fallon, on the loop, who again fired over the black spot to nudge Cavan back into the lead with a quarter of an hour played.

Shehu then came up with the best score of the half, splitting the posts from a tight angle after great work from Odhran Madden and Ultan O’Reilly.

But Antrim were proving difficult to shake off at this stage. A lovely left-footed point from wing-back Ryan McKeever and one from the other wing-back, James Óg McAuley, tied the scores and the visitors led for the first and only time in the match when their full-back Liam McLernon got forward to bundle over a point when a goal seemed on.

But Cavan recovered well and would tack on five points unanswered in the run-in to half-time. Shehu won and converted a free and then Maguire thumped over a terrific effort from 40 metres.

Senan Macken found Shehu, who ducked and dived and fed the rangy Odhran Madden, who curled over from the pocket to make it 0-6 to 0-4 five minutes before the break.

Shehu won another free which Nathan Quigley converted and after a good ball from Ultan O’Reilly, Quigley grabbed a mark and made it count to send his side in with a four-point advantage.

Cavan started the second half on the front foot and soon put the game to bed. Shehu, after super work from Thomas Gilsenan, burned off a defender and pointed and Gilsenan was again the provider with a perfect pass for Quigley, who found the net with a composed finish to make it 1-9 to 0-4 with four second-half minutes played.

JJ Higgins replied for Antrim but another Shehu free (after Fiachra Brady picked out Fallon) and a Quigley mark made it a nine-point game as Cavan began to show their best stuff and drive home their advantage.

Antrim sub Odhran Quinn registered a classy point with his first touch but Cavan responded with their best move of the game, Jamie Clarke fielding at midfield and Quigley pointing after a slick inter-change of passes.

Shehu, off-balance, sent over another stylish point as Cavan moved 10 clear entering the home straight.

Daire Higgins and the athletic Ryan Nwaneri traded scores, as did Joe Logan and Shehu, as Cavan kept the Saffrons at arm’s length.

JJ Higgins had the final say with a free but the game was long over as a contest and Cavan ran out comfortable eight-point victors to march on to a quarter-final meeting with Tyrone.

Cavan: Cian McConnell (Butlersbridge), Aaron Dowd (Ballyhaise), Conor Doyle (Cavan Gaels), Senan Macken (Castlerahan), Fiachra Brady (Gowna), Oisin Maguire (Mullahoran, 0-1), Andrew Hill (Shercock), Jamie Clarke (Castlerahan), Thomas Gilsenan (Killygarry), Nathan Quigley (Denn, 1-4, 2m, 1f), Ryan Nwaneri (Munterconnaught, 0-1), Odhran Madden (Gowna, 0-1), Charlie Fallon (Killygarry, 0-2), Joshua Shehu (Cavan Gaels, 0-6, 3f), Ultan O’Reilly (Mullahoran)

Subs: Finn Crowe (Cavan Gaels) for C Fallon (43, inj), Shane McCabe (Cootehill Celtic) for A Hill (46), Seamus O’Reilly (Swanlinbar) for U O’Reilly (49), Faolán Graham (Butlersbridge) for R Nwaneri (54), Cian McCrystal (Ramor United) for F Brady (57)

Antrim: John McAtamney, Conor O’Connell, Liam McLernon (0-1), Daire Ogelsby, James Óg McAuley (0-1), Cormac Trainor, Ryan McKeever (0-1), Sedgae MacAdaimh, Odhran Doherty (0-1f), Padraic O’Connell, Pádraig Ó Muirigh, Torin Hodkinson, Shea McCann, JJ Higgins (0-3, 2f), Joe Logan (0-1)

Subs: Daire Higgins (0-1) for P Ó Muirigh (30, inj.), Odhran Quinn (0-1) for P O’Connell (43)

Ref: Oisin McKee (Armagh)