Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

PREVIEW: Armagh and Cavan set for Clones showdown

May 30th, 2019

When Cavan last appeared in an Ulster final in 2001 few in the county could have envisaged that it would be at least 18 years until their next Ulster final appearance.

Similarly, few in Armagh could have imagined that they would wait at least another 11 years to reach an Ulster final when they won their seventh Ulster title in ten years, in 2008.

Sunday presents both with a golden opportunity to put themselves back within touching distance of the Anglo-Celt Cup.

Cavan impressed greatly in their quarter-final win over Monaghan, making a rapid start to open up a healthy lead and then bravely holding off a sustained Monaghan fightback. A repeat showing here would give them every chance of advancing to the final.

Armagh meanwhile needed extra-time to overcome Down in their quarter-final. They had impressed in opening up a five point lead moving into the closing stages of normal time before surrendering the lead. To their credit, they showed considerable resolve to win the game, especially when trailing by three points just before half time in extra-time.

The age profile of the two teams is largely similar with senior players in the form of Brendan Donaghy and Charlie Vernon providing the experienced heads required for Kieran McGeeney’s men, while Martin Reilly, Raymond Galligan and Cian Mackey offer similar for Cavan.

The two sides also have some exciting young players capable of having a big influence on the final result. Rian O’Neill and Jarlath Óg Burns spearheaded the Armagh challenge in Páirc Esler, while Conor Rehill and Conor Brady were influential for Cavan in the middle third.

The game could well come down to the battle between the Armagh attack and the Cavan defence. Padraig Faulkner turned in an excellent display on Conor McManus in Cavan’s quarter-final win and will be expected to shadow Rian O’Neill. Jason McLoughlin and Jamie Clarke should also have an intriguing duel.

At the other end of the pitch the man marking responsibilities are just as interesting. Martin Reilly and Dara McVeety offer a great threat from the Cavan half forward line. It seems likely that Brendan Donaghy will be asked to drop deeper to sweep, with James Morgan and Patrick Hughes being assigned the marking roles.

It might be argued Armagh have the greater threat to come from the bench, Stefan Campbell and Andrew Murnin scoring 1-3 from play against Down, but Cian Mackey can offer great experience to the Breffni men, if and when he makes an appearance.

It really is set up to be a cracker on Sunday. Make sure you get along to St Tiernach’s Park and see it for yourself.

Tickets for Sunday are available to purchase at your local Centra and Supervalu stores as well as it selected O’Neill’s Sports Stores. Make sure to buy early and save on the match day prices.

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