Ulster SFC: Cavan stun derby rivals Monaghan to make semi-finals

Monaghan defender Karl O'Connell takes to the air in a bid to stop Thomas Galligan
Monaghan defender Karl O'Connell takes to the air in a bid to stop Thomas Galligan

Cavan produced a hugely committed display to surprise Monaghan 1-13 to 0-12 in the Ulster SFC quarter-final.

The Breffni County's early unanswered salvo of 1-3 proved the difference although Martin Reilly's penalty looked a harsh call by referee Conor Lane.

With Reilly and Gearoid McKiernan outstanding, Cavan led 1-8 to 0-4 at half-time at Kingspan Breffni.

Monaghan cut Cavan's lead to three with 15 minutes left but the home side held their nerve to take a deserved win.

Relive the action as it happened from Saturday night's quarter-final

Padraig Faulkner's outstanding full-back display was also crucial for Cavan as he restricted Conor McManus to only one point from play.

Cavan's success is their first championship victory over Monaghan since 2001 while one has to go back to 1987 for the hosts' last Ulster win over the Farney men at Breffni Park.

Cavan duo Conor Brady and Thomas Galligan battle with Kieran Hughes for the high ball
Cavan duo Conor Brady and Thomas Galligan battle with Kieran Hughes for the high ball

After beating Cavan in what was effectively a relegation decider in March, last year's All-Ireland semi-finalists, despite having a number of injury absentees, were expected to set up a provincial semi-final against the winners of Sunday's clash between Down and Armagh

However, for the third successive season in an Ulster Championship contest, Monaghan failed to handle the mantle of favouritism as they were out-fought and, to a large extent, out-thought by Mickey Graham and his Cavan squad.

Monaghan badly missed the presence of injured Darren Hughes as McKiernan dominated the physical exchanges in the middle third of the field.

All the early energy was produced by the Breffnimen as they racked up their unanswered 1-3 in the opening eight minutes.

Granted the penalty was a hugely controversial call by Cork referee Lane, as he adjudged that Monaghan defender Drew Wylie had pushed over Conor Madden after the Cavan man had fumbled a sensational defence splitting ball from Reilly.

Reilly's pass was only one of a serious of superb deliveries which picked out team-mates in dangerous positions while McKiernan's running, athleticism and score-taking was also integral to Cavan's thoroughly deserved win.

Quick start

Cavan showed their intent right from the off as McKiernan won possession to set up a Conor Brady point after only 20 seconds.

Monaghan had a chance to hit back immediately with a goal as Karl O'Connell charged into the danger zone but Faulkner got back to gather the fisted effort on the line in a crucial intervention.

Just how important quickly became evident as the Breffni men won their contentious penalty with Reilly showing admirable nerve to slot confidently to Rory Beggan's right.

Cavan's vocal fans in the 13,496 crowd were nearing delirium as Conor Madden quickly swung over another beauty from play to leave them 1-3 to 0-0 ahead after seven minutes.

Farney forward Conor McManus gets a tug from Cavan's Conor Madden
Farney forward Conor McManus was well marshalled by the Cavan defence

Beggan finally opened Monaghan's account with a thumping free from 55 metres with a Fintan Kelly score quickly following but Cavan's method was continuing to look the more assured with McKiernan and Murray slotting two more superb efforts from play to restore a six-point advantage.

Cavan's long balls into the likes of targetman McKiernan and Madden were accurate and targeted in contrast to Monaghan's deliveries which were more of the hopeful variety.

Debutant Stephen O'Hanlon was among those to drop Monaghan efforts into Raymond Galligan's hands while Malachy O'Rourke's side were also guilty of some dreadful wides in the opening period.

Both Conor Boyle and Ryan Wylie attempted to shackle McKiernan in the first half but the Mullahoran man was proving almost unplayable.

Faulkner's regular sorties upfield also had the effect of drawing McManus back to his own half which further inhibited his attacking effectiveness.

By the interval, the advantage was extended to seven as Madden pointed in the final act of the first half after being found by another gorgeous Reilly pass.

Farney fight back

A McKiernan free increased the margin to eight immediately after the resumption before the expected Monaghan improvement finally materialised as they hit six of the next seven scores to cut the Cavan lead to only three.

With McManus still being well shackled by Faulkner, Shane Carey was emerging as Monaghan's main attacking threat as he notched two points with substitute Conor McCarthy also weighing in with a score.

After their tactic of dropping men back singularly failed in the first half, Monaghan had little option but to operate a forward press in the second period and it did threaten to unhinge Cavan for a 15-minute period during the second half.

However, the Breffnimen were able to tag on crucial points from full-back Faulkner and McKiernan in the 57th and 64 minutes which twice nudged them four ahead.

McKiernan's score seemed to have the effect of lifting the siege and finally breaking Monaghan's spirit as Cavan went on to complete a famous victory over their neighbours.

Cavan: R Galligan (capt); J McLoughlin, P Faulkner (0-1), C Moynagh; G Smith, K Clarke, C Rehill (0-1); Conor Brady (0-1), G McKiernan (0-4, 1 f); M Reilly (1-0), D McVeety (0-1), N Murray (0-2); O Kiernan, T Galligan, C Madden (0-2).

Subs: C Conroy (0-1) for Smith 52, Ciaran Brady for Kiernan 45, C Mackey for Madden 56, J Brady for Moynagh 60 BC, S Smith for Galligan 65, K Brady for McLoughlin 70.

Monaghan: R Beggan (0-2 45, 1f); D Wylie, C Boyle (0-1), R Wylie (0-1); K O'Connell, C Walshe (capt), P McKenna; F Kelly, K Hughes (0-1f); D Ward, D Malone, S Carey (0-2); R McAnespie, C McManus (0-4 3f), S O'Hanlon.

Subs: C McCarthy (0-1) for McKenna 30, K Duffy for Malone half-time, M Bannigan for O'Hanlon 54, O Duffy for Ward 63, N Kearns for Carey 66, D Mone for O'Connell 70 bc.

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)