St. Barnabas 0-17
CAVAN used a goal in each half of regular time to pull back St. Barnabas leads and then dominated on the scoreboard, in two 10-minute periods of extra time, to advance to meet Four Provinces in next week's Senior B final.
In their best scoring outburst of the year the Breffni Boys never gave up as they continually came back at their opponents. They will now contest their second final of the year; they were defeated by Leitrim in the KO final three weeks ago.
The teams had a point each too open the game in the first five minutes, with Sean Roche and Declan Fitzpatrick the scorers; Fitz had his from a free. Barnabas had a second a nice score from Morgan Hynes.
It preceded a brilliant move by the Saints when Eddie Greenan burst out from the back and released Roche. He fed Sean Carbin and the veteran blasted his shot off the crossbar. The ball was cleared down the field and Tomo Smith tapped over a free when Joe Shannahy was fouled. It was a major turnover.
Cavan took initiative from the point and attacked again. Justin O'Halloran found a galloping Emmitt Killeen, but his goal-bound shot was turned aside by a fully extended Barry Lynch. Brian Newman pulled on the rebound soccer style but it went agonizingly across the goal.
After a Fitz free from the left wing St. Barnabas attacked in droves to swing the pendulum of dominance in their direction. Four points in a row with Brendan Moran firing the first three - he had a tremendous chance at a goal with one chance - and Ronan Garvey blasting a screamer over gave the Woodlawn boys a four point lead.
They were also getting good service from Morgan Hynes in the middle of the field where he was coming down with the ball from kick outs and also foraging in open play. Again, however, their dominance did not extend further than a 10-minute period, with Cavan drawing level on the 25th minute. They did it with an excellent left footed point by Smith that was followed by an outstanding goal from Killeen.
A long ball from Kevin Smith arrived into Newman; he flicked to the thundering Corofin native and former Galway under-21 star who gave Lynch no chance on this occasion. It tied the game up at 0-7 apiece, but St. Barnabas finished the half stronger as they had scores from Moran and Darren Petit just before the break to again go ahead.
After a Carbin free that made the scoreline 0-10 to 1-4, Cavan came back into the game in a huge way. In the first 10 minutes they again cut the deficit back and tied the game up.
It began with a through ball from Fitzpatrick that set Conor Brady free in a one on one with Lynch. Brady kept the ball on the ground soccer style and delightfully tucked it in the low right corner.
Killeen followed it with a point before Newman cancelled out a Garvey score to leave it 2-6 to 0-11. When Killeen again slotted over Cavan had the slim lead with 10 minutes left in the contest.
At this point we had more than the players involved in the game as Shane King came out of the Cavan defense with ball in hand. He was met by Alan O'Hara with what appeared a fair shoulder that deposited King into the laps of John Kelly, Mike Cassidy and the Gaelic Park clock personnel. All recovered to continue, thankfully.
Barnabas also recovered at this point and they fought hard to get back into the contest and take the lead. O'Hara, Garvey with a huge drive, and Ray Keenan when he joined the attack replied to a Brady score to give them a one point lead.
They also got a huge lift from a critical save from Lynch from Smith, while Brady blasted wide from in front of the goal when he had no one to beat but the keeper.
Cavan did finally get the tying score from Declan Fitz, but as the clock wound down Garvey had one last chance from the 45 wide on the right, but his shot with the buzzer gone dropped short to send us into extra time.
Cavan quickly tacked two points on the board to open the first period of extra time, with Fitzpatrick punishing indiscressions from frees. He had Cavan's third after Brady was fouled to give them a big lead for this juncture of the game.
Garvey did pull one back when he was set free by O'Hara, but his idea was definitely below the bar although the team were happy to get a score.
The teams swapped points to begin the second stanza, but it maintained the two-point lead for Cavan. They defended stoutly as the final tics went by with Kevin Smith, Killeen and Reilly doing impressive work.
Cavan were very well served by Martin O'Connor, who was solid throughout. Brendan Reilly was effective at full back, Shane King strong as he moves further back the field from his normal forward position. Kevin Smith is a revelation as a defender and should be used there by New York versus Galway.
Conor Brady took his goal well, Declan Fitz enjoys the responsibility of the free taking and it also helps his open game. Brain Newman and Emmitt Killeen were thorns all day for the Saints defense.
Barnabas had the man of the match in Barry Lynch despite the loss. His saves were brilliant. Eddie Greenan, Ray Keenan, Ronan Garvey and Mike Bishop, who did mountains of work and chipped in with a pair of points, had impacts at different times.