As we continue our countdown to this weekend’s SFC meeting of Cavan and Antrim at Kingspan Breffni Park we take a look back to that famous clash between the Saffrons and the Breffni Blues in the Ulster semi-final in Clones in 2009 where Antrim beat Cavan to reach their first Ulster final since 1970.
Kevin O’Boyle, Paddy Cunningham, Michael McCann and Tomas McCann were all part of the Antrim team who recorded that famous victory in Clones in 2009 and all four have been recalled to the Antrim panel this year and will be hoping for a starting berth against Cavan on Saturday.
The Saffons were 0-7 to 0-6 up at half-time but could have been further ahead as Cavan keeper James Reilly saved Tomas McCann’s goal attempt.
Five consecutive scores in the second half put Liam Bradley’s men in command.
A scrambled goal from substitute David Gibney gave Cavan hope but scores from Kevin Niblock and Paddy Cunningham ensured a famous victory for Antrim.
They bossed the first half and landed early points from play through Sean Burke, Tomas McCann and Terry O’Neill.
Losing Cavan manager Tommy Carr said that Antrim were the fresher and hungrier team on the night.
Cavan’s first four points came from Seanie Johnston but Antrim kept their noses in front through Michael McCann (2), James Loughery and Paddy Cunningham.
Martin Reilly and Ray Cullivan replied for Cavan who were probably satisfied to be just one point down at the break after being outplayed.
But Tommy Carr’s men were immediately under the cosh again after the break.
Points from play by Burke, Aodhan Gallagher and Justin Crozier, plus two Cunningham frees, had Antrim in complete control at 0-12 to 0-6.
But suddenly the situation changed as substitute David Gibney turned to fire home the goal which revived Cavan’s hopes.
A point by Larry Reilly then left just two in it and questions were starting to be asked about Antrim’s ability to kill off their opponents.
However, Antrim were not to be denied as Kevin Niblock calmed the nerves with a score from play and Cunningham added another free.
Cavan attacked frantically and almost created a goal chance but Antrim held on to win by three points.
Antrim lost to Tyrone by 1-15 to 0-12 in the Ulster final that year before travelling to Tullamore and giving the mighty Kerry a scare in the qualifiers but eventually losing to the Kingdom.
Heady days and 11 years later Antrim are again faced by Cavan in the Ulster championship and during the week we will continue our build up to Saturday’s Breffni Park quarter-final clash.
Antrim: P Graham, C Brady, A McClean, K O’Boyle, T Scullion, J Crozier (0-1), J Loughrey (0-1), N McKeever, A Gallagher (0-1), T O’Neill (0-1), K Brady, P Cunningham (0-4, 3f), S Burke (0-2), M McCann (0-2, 1f), T McCann (0-1). Substitutes: K Niblock for McKeever (59), C Close for K Brady (64).
Cavan: J Reilly, M Hannon, D Sheridan, M Brides, J McCutcheon, E Keating, P O’Reilly, N Walsh, C Galligan, S Brady, R Flanagan, C Mackey, S Johnston (0-4, 2f), R. Cullivan (0-1), M Reilly (0-1). Substitutes: P Brady for P Reilly (20), R Dunne for McCutcheon (40), L Reilly (0-1) for S Brady (44), D Givney (1-0) for Mackey (53), J O’Reilly for Keating (62).
Referee: J Bannon (Longford).