30/05/2005

Antrim and Cavan to meet again

An Antrim team with eight debutants came within a whisker of securing their first Ulster Championships away win in 23 years following an 11-all draw with Cavan at the weekend.

A scrappy Bank of Ireland Ulster SFC tie ended in a welter of excitement, with 14-man Cavan falling behind after leading for most of the game - Kevin Madden's clinical free-kicking taking the Saffrons to the verge of triumph.

Madden missed a penalty, but his accuracy from placed balls was crucial to an inspired second-half performance from his side. Cavan carved open the Antrim defence three times in the first quarter, but failed to take any of the golden goal chances which tempted their misfiring attackers.

However, for all their dominance for 25 minutes, Cavan found themselves just two points ahead at the break, after Madden and Ciaran Close both thumped over long-range frees to give Antrim some hope.

The home side were then reduced to 14 men 15 minutes from the end when defender Karol Crotty picked up a second yellow card, and from the resultant free, Madden brought the sides level at 0-9 each.

Larry Reilly immediately regained the lead for the home side, but with Joe Quinn beginning to get some joy from the midfield battle, Mickey Culbert's side were soon back on level terms, thanks to accurate placing by Madden, who converted his fifth free. And with five minutes to play Madden drilled a superb ball between the posts from 45 metres out, taking Antrim ahead for the first time in the game.

But in a desperate last push Cavan's Dermot McCabe who had moved to full forward won a free from which Finbar O'Reilly levelled from the 20 metre line.

The replay will be at Casement Park on Saturday, throw-in at 6pm.

(MB/SP)

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