Ulster Inter-County Vocational Schools Football Championship Semi-Final
Cavan 1-15 Monaghan 1-8 15/12/11
Monaghan exited the Ulster Inter-County Vocational Schools FC with a seven-point defeat to Cavan at a bitterly cold Cloghan on Thursday. Monaghan contested the previous four Ulster finals, winning three, but there will be no repeat after this disappointing loss to their near-neighbours, who had a show-stealer in full-forward Kevin Mulvaney – top-scorer by a long way with 0-11. The hosts looked threatening in attack with the likes of Shane McGuinness and David Freeman showing well, but despite the best efforts of Johnny McGuigan in particular, Monaghan were never able to gain enough possession. Apart from Mulvaney, Cavan also had good performances from David Harper, Liam Buchanan, Andy Dunne and Aaron Watters.
It took Cavan just a minute to open the scoring through Gerard Smith and although Johnny McGuigan linked up with Shane McGuinness to get Monaghan off the mark, Kevin Mulvaney won and scored a 20-metre free to keep Cavan ahead in the early exchanges. Monaghan then enjoyed their best spell of the match, as McGuinness kicked a point after good work by Kieran Duffy and Gerard Graham, before David Freeman got on the end of a McGuigan free to slot over a fine score. Freeman tapped over a 13-metre free for a foul on McGuinness, but Mulvaney got a point back for Cavan after Monaghan goalkeeper David Kirk had come to his side’s rescue by saving from Killian McSherry, who had been released by substitute Paddy Smith and Blake Carty.
Mulvaney won and scored another close-range free to bring Cavan level, before both sides went close to finding the net. First, McGuinness won a high ball from Graham and scythed through the Cavan defence, only to be denied by a good stop from Carey Smith, while Mulvaney fired off the post at the other end, following good approach play by Stephen Jackson. Jackson was also the provider for the next two points – which were finished by Mulvaney and McSherry – although Freeman converted a 25-metre free for a foul on Desmond Ward to end 14 scoreless minutes for Monaghan. Cavan had the last say of the half, though, as David Harper took a pass from midfield partner Liam Buchanan and lofted over a good score to make it 0-7 to 0-5 in favour of the visitors at half-time.
Cavan made a dream start to the second half when McSherry was quickest to react to a high centre from Gerard Smith and slide a low shot into the net, but Monaghan responded with three unanswered points – the first two coming from McGuinness frees, after fouls on himself and Ward. James McElroy added a well-taken score, but Mulvaney replied after a strong run by Gerard Smith and Cavan hit three quick-fire points at the end of the third quarter. Predictably, Mulvaney accounted for two of the trio as he pointed a 20-metre free for a foul on Harper before quickly adding an effort from play and the other came from Paddy Smith, who had raced onto a long ball from Gerard Smith.
Mulvaney opened up a seven-point gap with eight minutes left, but Adam Treanor gave Monaghan hope when he ended a 20-minute scoreless spell with a cracking shot to the top corner of the net at the end of a move involving Freeman and McGuinness. Crucially, Cavan got the next score from another Mulvaney free and the Breffni side remained in control when Carey Smith was equal to a powerful drop-kicked goal-attempt from a free by McGuinness. Mulvaney passed the double-figures mark in injury-time with a brace of points from frees after fouls on Fergal Reilly and McSherry and that put the icing on a deserved victory for Cavan, who will now play defending Ulster and All-Ireland champions Donegal in the provincial final.
Cavan: C Smith; K O’Reilly, J Cunningham, L McCabe; A Dunne, A Watters, F Reilly; L Buchanan, D Harper (0-1); B Carty, S Jackson, G Smith (0-1); G Watters, K Mulvaney (0-11, 6f), K McSherry (1-1).
Subs: P Smith (0-1) for G Watters (16 mins), S Lynch for Carty (42), D Doonican for K O’Reilly (57).
Monaghan: D Kirk; F Malone, P Garland, J Rehill; K Duffy, J Guinan, P Martin; J McGuigan (0-1), J McElroy (0-1); G Graham, D Freeman (0-3, 2f), F Smith; D Ward, A Treanor (1-0), S McGuinness (0-3, 1f).
Subs: D McElroy for Smith (H-T), A Brady for Guinan (inj., 42), D Brennan for Graham (48).
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).