Seanie Johnston shines as Cavan cruise past off-key Armagh
Cavan 3-18 Armagh 0-10
Cavan free-wheeled to a surprisingly easy win over Armagh last night to consolidate their position in Division 2. In a game devoid of intensity or urgency, and surely a million miles away from the blood and thunder of their forthcoming Ulster championship clash back here on May 29, Seanie Johnston sparkled with 1-5.
After hitting 0-6 in the win over Meath last week Johnston, back in Breffni blue for the first season since 2011, hit 1-4 in the opening half and the contest was pretty much over when Cavan led by 1-11 to 0-5 at half time.
Armagh settled quickly and made a bright start, scoring the opening three points, all from play, in the first five minutes through Ciaran O'Hanlon, Stephen Sheridan and Micheal McKenna.
The game turned on a scruffy goal by Johnston in the sixth minute with Cavan's first purposeful attack; Michael Argue's ball in was collected by David Givney and he passed to Johnston, who bundled it home from close range.
The strike woke Cavan up and they hit the next eight unanswered points, with Armagh going 25 minutes without a score. Dara McVeety started the spree with a superb point from the wing, before being black-carded a few minutes later for a high tackle on Tony Kernan.
Johnston hit four points, two from play, with Gearoid McKiernan converting two frees.
With Cavan first to most breaking ball, the home side continued to capitalise, with Jason McLoughlin also scoring a memorable point from an acute angle.
Trailing 1-8 to 0-3, Armagh finally ended their scoring drought with Stefan Campbell nailing the first of his two first-half frees in the 30th minute.
But Cavan finished with a flourish with the last three points of the half. McLoughlin landed another point from almost an identical position to his first score, and Argue scored two injury-time points to leave the Breffni blues with a commanding 1-11 to 0-5 interval lead.
Ethan Rafferty, who came on 10 minutes before the break, was Armagh's one ray of hope, landing a long-range free followed by a point early in the second half.
However, he picked up a very harsh black card for a supposed body check on Johnston, and with his dismissal, Armagh's mini-fightback was over.
Cavan rattled up 1-3 without reply in a seven-minute spell after Rafferty went off, the points coming from David Givney, McKiernan and a superb point hooked by Johnston over his left shoulder.
Worse was to follow for Armagh with Givney palming home a second goal following a great run and unselfish pass from Martin Reilly after 52 minutes.
McKiernan drilled home a third, his low left-footed finish in the 59th minute inflicting further punishment on the visitors.
It will be very different when the sides meet again in May.
Scorers - Cavan: S Johnston 1-5 (2f), G McKiernan 1-5 (3f), D Givney 1-1, M Argue, J McLoughlin 0-2 each, P Faulkner, D McVeety, M Reilly 0-1 each; Armagh: S Campbell 0-3 (3f), E Rafferty (1f), G McParland (1f) 0-2 each, M McKenna, C O'Hanlon, S Sheridan 0-1 each.
Cavan: R Galligan; P Faulkner, K Clarke, J McLoughlin; C Brady, C Moynagh, K Brady; T Corr, L Buchanan; D McVeety, G McKiernan, M Reilly; D Givney, M Argue, S Johnston. Subs: N Murray for McVeety (BC, 13), R Dunne for Buchanan (48), P O'Connor for Johnston 53), C Mackey for Dunne (BC, 55), J Hayes for McLoughlin (62), B Sankey for Faulkner (65).
Armagh: M McNeice; A Mallon, C Vernon, S Connell; M Shields, S Heffron, S Sheridan; A Findon, S Campbell (0-3, 3f); N Grimley, A Forker, T Kernan; C Watters, C O'Hanlon, M McKenna. Subs: E Rafferty for Watters (25), A Murnin for Grimley (HT), J McElroy for Rafferty (BC, 46), N McConville for Forker (49), G McParland for Kernan (58), J Hall for O'Hanlon (63).
Referee: M Deegan (Laois)
Sunday Indo Sport