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Cavan added to their usurping of Monaghan with a win over Antrim last weekend. Now, they face Down in the Ulster semi-final. The Mourne man were victorious against Fermanagh in their quarter-final on Sunday. Both of these sides have made it to Ulster finals in recent years. Last season, Cavan made it to the decider but lost to Donegal. Likewise, Down played the 2017 final against Tyrone but came out on the wrong side. Now, one of these teams is guaranteed to contest the Anglo-Celt Cup again.
After their famous win over Monaghan, Cavan returned to action against Antrim last weekend. Initially they made the game hard work for themselves. Antrim were well set-up defensively. But, even when Cavan got a look at goal they were slow to take their chances. 6 wides in the first half saw them enter the break a point down.
Antrim stuck to their system in the second half, showing great discipline. In the third quarter they threatened to steal a goal that would leave Cavan with a lot of work to do. But, Ray Galligan came to Cavan’s rescue again.
Then, in the final stages Antrim finally ran out of steam. Cavan showed the benefit of having already played a Championship game and they finished strongly. After leaving it late twice now, Mickey Graham will be keen to get his team off the mark quickly in the semi-final.
Meanwhile, Down came up against a similarly stubborn Fermanagh team. Both teams adopted big defensive blocks in this fixture and the scoreline was evidence of this. Goals were never really on offer in the first half and long-range shooting proved beneficial. There was never more than one between the teams as Down went into the break 0-7 vs 0-6.
There was always a sense that one goal could open the game up. Caolan Mooney was the one to offer up such a chance. After a bursting run he left the Fermanagh defence stretched. As a result, Daniel McGuinness found space at the back post and palmed it into the empty net.
Fermanagh had no reply from there and Down’s forwards continued to tack on the scores. Barry O’Hagan scored 0-4 from play in an impressive display that will leave him full of confidence.
The experience of winter Championship aided Cavan in their last game. However, they now enter their fifth game in five weeks. With heavy ground under foot, fatigue may play a part, especially after going for more than 90 minutes against Monaghan.
Otherwise, Down are fresh and ready to take on Graham’s men. Their strong finish against Fermanagh was an excellent display of their firepower. At the same time, they showed great patience and discipline to break down a stout Fermanagh defence.
The game is live on BBC Northern Ireland.
Down are 4/6 favourites with Paddy Power. Cavan are the opposite at 6/4 and a draw is 15/2.
Prediction: Down. Cavan proved capable of providing an upset already and have been underestimated in Ulster before. But, five games in five weeks is a lot in these circumstances and Down may just have the extra legs coming down the stretch.
Facts and Figures
This will be their first Ulster championship meeting since 2007 when Down won a prelimi nary round tie by four points. They met in the All-Ireland qualifiers two years ago when Cavan won by two points.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP CLASHES
2018: Cavan 1-14 Down 0-15 (Qualifier Round 2)
2007: Down 0-15 Cavan 0-11 – Replay (Ulster preliminary round)
2007: Down 3-8 Cavan 2-11 – Draw (Ulster preliminary round)
2006: Down 1-13 Cavan 0-11 (Ulster preliminary round)
2004: Cavan 3-13 Down 2-12 – Replay (Ulster quarter-final)
*Cavan beat Monaghan (2-15 to 1-17 after extra-time) and Antrim (0-13 to 0-9) to reach the semi-final. Down beat Fermanagh by 1-15 to 0-11.
*Cavan, who lost to Donegal in last year’s Ulster final, are bidding to reach the final in suc cessive years for the first time since 1968-69.
*Down were last in the Ulster final in 2017. They haven’t won the title since 1994 while Cavan’s last success was in 1997.
Ulster Championship Semi-Final: Cavan vs Down, Sunday, 15th November, 13:30 (Athletic Grounds).
— The GAA (@officialgaa) November 10, 2020