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Cavan Gaels' attack proves far too sharp as Lamh Dhearg are crushed

Cavan Gaels 1-19 Lamh Deargh 0-10

By Kevin Carney

Cavan Gaels made hay in the sunshine at Kingspan Breffni to book a place in the semi-finals of the Ulster Club SFC.

Scoreboards are seldom found guilty of perjury and Lamh Dhearg can have no complaints, for the gulf between the sides was positively luminous on a very bright day for Cavan football.

Indeed, but for some poor finishing and a hat-trick of top-notch saves by the visitors' ­goalkeeper John Finucane, the hosts' victory margin would have been much more pronounced.

The Cavan champions led from gun to tape and won pulling up despite spurning six gilt-edged goal chances over the hour-plus.

A point after just 12 seconds from human dynamo Robert Maloney-Derham opened the floodgates for the cock-a-hoop Gaels.

Luckily for the Belfast boys, Gaels' duo Martin Dunne and Kevin Meehan had point-blank shots saved by 'keeper John ­Finucane while a diving block by Domhnall Nugent denied ­Andrew Graham and only the crossbar prevented Seanie Johnston from goaling.

At the other end of the field, the Hannahstown-based Antrim champions manufactured one clear-cut goal chance but Domhnall Nugent fired wide in the 26th minute after playing a neat one-two with Ciaran Flaherty.

The Antrim men worked in dervish-like fashion to win their game of catch-up but apart from the tricky Paddy Cunningham, the visitors were punchless in the last third.

The lights remained largely stuck on red for the Saffrons' representatives and in falling behind by 0-1 to 1-7 after Micheál Lyng's fisted goal (14), their cause became a mountainous one.

The Gaels' superior fitness, mobility and cutting-edge ensured that they were at their ease in consolidating their well-heeled 1-11 to 0-5 interval lead.

On a perfect day for football, Lámh Dearg - making their first appearance in the competition since 1992 - carved out one goal chance in the second half but Gaels' 'keeper Flynn won the race for possession ahead of Conor Murray after Patrick Cunningham's shot struck the upright in the 35th minute.

In spite of the lop-sided nature of the exchanges, the game was a sporting and high-tempo encounter throughout but the air of predictability that wafted its way over proceedings from early on never lifted from under the clear blue sky.

In fact, the major talking point after the game was the fact that the runaway victors found the Lámh Dearg net just once.

Doubtless using the rapier rather than the smotherer's pillow will be something Gaels' boss Jason O'Reilly will be impressing on his charges when they face Fermanagh champions Derrgonnelly in the last four.

Cavan Gaels scorers: Dunne (0-6, 1f); Johnston (0-5, 1f); Lyng (1-2); Maloney-Derham (0-3); Murphy (0-1); Fortune (0-1); Graham (0-1)

Lámh Dhearg scorers: Cunningham (0-6, 5f); Murray (0-3); McKeown (0-1).

Cavan Gaels: Flynn; Fortune, Murray, K Meehan; Sexton, Fortune, Murphy; Graham, Maloney-Derham; Smith, Lyng, Graham; O'Connor, Johnston, Dunne.

Subs: Meehan for Graham (43); Coyle for Smith (53); Graham for Lyng (56); K Donohoe for P Graham (57); Higgins for Meehan (58); John Fortune for Sexton (61).

Lámh Dhearg: Finucane: Mervyn, A McAulfield, McGarry; Lynch, Herron, McComb; Fitzsimons, Nugent; McKeown, Flaherty, Murray; Cunningham, Murray, K Quinn. Subs; Nolan for M McGarry (34); Larkin for Fitzsimons (B.C 42); Rice for Nugent (46); G Slane for McComb (52); Stephen Tully for McKeown (57).

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).

Belfast Telegraph

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