Five players sent off as Cavan edge past Armagh
In what proved a turbulent opener to the 2016 season, Cavan stunned hosts Armagh at Oliver Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen in chiselling out a deserved Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup opening round victory.
Even though they lost three players in all to red cards - David Givney, Josh Hayes and Killian Brady - Cavan still managed to contain a late Armagh surge to come out on top.
The first-half departure of Givney and Hayes certainly did not unduly discomfit the visitors as they led at the break by 2-6 to 0-3, goals from Niall McDermott and Christopher Conroy the reward for their ability to launch telling counter-thrusts.
With McDermott and Dara McVeety outstanding throughout, the Breffni side looked set to coast to a handsome victory when Armagh had Aaron Findon and Brendan Donaghy dismissed after the break but they still managed to snap up late scores from Stefan Forker, Gavin McParland and Ethan Rafferty while Killian Brady became the third Cavan player to incur a red card.
While accepting that the contest had been "feisty", Cavan manager Terry Hyland welcomed what was an unexpected opening day boost.
"We set up defensively but managed to hit them on the break. The Dr McKenna Cup can provide battles and this was a feisty affair," he said.
SCORERS - Armagh: E Rafferty 0-4 (2f), S Campbell, G McParland 0-2 each; S Forker (f), B Donaghy , M McKenna 0-1 each. Cavan: C Conroy 1-2, N McDermott 1-1 (1f), T Hayes 0-2, L Buchanan, M Reilly, E Henry 0-1 each
Armagh - M McNeice; R McCaughley, C Vernon, M Murray; S Forker, C McKeever, A Forker; A Findon, N Grimley; R Grugan, N McConville, S Campbell; E Rafferty, A Murnin, G McParland. Subs: J McElroy for McCaughley (25), B Donaghy for Murnin (BC, 27), M McKenna for McConville (h-t), E McVerry for Grimley (53), J Feeney for Campbell (53), J Hall for Vernon (BC, 58)
Cavan - A O'Meara; J Hayes, K Brady, P Faulkner; C Brady, N Murray, D McVeety; B Sankey, L Buchanan; C Conroy, N McDermott, E Henry; D Givney, T Moore, M Reilly. Subs: T Hayes 0-2 for Moore (44), T Carr for Conroy (46), B Tully for Henry (51), L Murphy for Sankey (52), P O'Connor for McDermott (66), J Brady for McVeety (68)
Ref - B Cassidy (Derry)