Cavan U20s exited the Ulster Championship at the hands of Tyrone after a hard-fought four-point defeat at a sunny St Tiarnach's Park today.
While Cavan had their moments, the Red Hands were the better team over the hour but never shook the Blues off, the winners kicking 10 wides in total.
Tyrone led by 0-6 to 0-2 after a lacklustre first half. Neither side had their shooting boots with them, with both registering five first-half wides and dropping numerous efforts short while Cavan had what looked a ‘point’ from Philip Rogers ruled out by the umpires.
A haul of 0-4 from Darragh Canavan, who also set up several other scores, proved the difference in the end in what was a slow-burner of a match.
In glorious weather conditions, Canavan opened the scoring with a trademark dummy and point. Both sides had chances but failed to convert before Liam Gray finally added Tyrone’s second after a swift counter-attack on 13 minutes.
Full-forward Sean Óg McAleer made it 0-3 to 0-0 and, on 25 minutes, Canavan again fired over a quality point to put four between them.
Cavan eventually got off the mark seconds later when Patrick Lynch powered through and clipped in with the left but Tyrone struck back quickly through midfielder Ruairi Gormley.
The Blues responded with an excellent score from Philip Rogers – who later went off with a head injury, which was a big blow to the 2017 All-Ireland minor semi-finalists – but a free from Sean Óg McAleer with the final kick of the half left it at 0-6 to 0-2.
Cavan started the second half on the front foot. Within 90 seconds, Lynch – who had scored 0-9 in the quarter-final win over Monaghan – pointed a free to cut the gap to three.
That man Canavan replied with a neat score but the Breffni boys quickly cancelled that out with a brilliant point from Cormac O’Reilly from a tight angle and when Lynch added a 45, it was a two-point game with 19 minutes remaining.
That was as good as it got, though, for the underdogs as Tyrone, who continued to fluff their lines in front of the posts, found another gear. A well-taken point from sub Ethan Jordan and a free from Canavan made it 0-9 to 0-5.
Back came Cavan with a superb point from Cian Madden but again, Canavan proved the go-to man, laying on a score for Michael Conroy.
The same player soon added a free entering the final five minutes and while Cavan would pile on the pressure in the closing stages, Tyrone always looked relatively comfortable playing on the counter.
Lynch (free) and Peter Óg McCartan – from a well-worked long kick-out – traded scores but by now, Cavan needed a goal and Tyrone had plenty of reinforcements back in defence.
A good point from Oisin Brady was all Cavan could muster as Tyrone soaked up the pressure and McCartan picked off another score on the break.
Four down, Cavan went for the jugular in the dying seconds and came close when Lynch cracked a powerful shot off the crossbar but Tyrone held on deservingly and will meet Derry in the final.
Scorers for Tyrone: Darragh Canavan 0-4 (1f), Peter Óg McCartan 0-2, Michael Conroy 0-2 (1f), Sean Óg McAleer 0-2f, Liam Gray 0-1, Ethan Jordan 0-1, Ruairi Gormley 0-1
Scorers for Cavan: Patrick Lynch 0-5 (3f, 45), Philip Rogers 0-1, Oisin Brady 0-1, Cian Madden 0-1, Cormac O’Reilly 0-1
Cavan: Gary O’Rourke, John Cooke, Patrick Meade, Danny Cusack, Oisin Brady, Cormac Timoney, Ben Smith, Ronan Patterson, Cormac Donohoe, Philip Nulty, Cian Madden, Philip Rogers, Cormac O’Reilly, Patrick Lynch, Tiarnan Reilly
Subs: Micheál Muldoon for Cooke (25 mins), Shane Duffy for Rogers (inj, 37), Karl Cosgrove for O’Reilly (45), Eoin Clarke for Patterson (52), Luke Molloy for Donohoe (52), Gareth Mannion for Reilly (55)
Derry: Oran Grimes, Aidan Clark, Conor Quinn, Peadar Mullan, Conall Grimes, Antoin Fox, Conall Devlin, Ruairi Gormley, Oran Mallon, Liam Gray, Darragh Canavan, Mark McKearney, James Garrity, Sean Óg McAleer, Tiarnan Quinn
Subs: Ethan Jordan for Mallon (27 mins, BC), Damien McGuigan for Grimes (41), Michael Conroy for Gray (45), Peter Óg McCartan for T Quinn (55), Ryan Jones for Devlin (60)
Ref: Sean Laverty (Antrim)