Clontibret edge it

22 October 2010 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By John Graham

Inniskeen’s most famous son, poet Patrick Kavanagh, could not have penned a more dramatic finish than that which unfolded in stoppage time in the replay of the Monaghan senior football championship in Pairc Grattan Inniskeen on Sunday afternoon last.

Entering the final quarter reigning champions Clontibret looked on their way to victory when they led by five points having been the more dominant team from the start but nerve ends were raw as Magheracloone battled back to the extent that they had Clontibret on the ropes going into the final five minutes with just one point between them at that stage.

In those final minutes Magheracloone’s Tomas Freeman was to experience  extremes of elation and dejection, elation when his side were awarded a penalty and then total dejection when his spot kick was saved by Paul McElroy. Had he converted the penalty kick some two and a half minutes into stoppage time with his side two points in arrears, it would have catapulted Magheracloone to victory in a game in which they were  in the lead only briefly in the opening minutes and one where they only produced their best form in a blistering 10 minutes spell midway through the second-half.

When the kick was saved Clontibret piled in to smother the ball in a sea of Saffron and White with the final whistle signaling scenes of emotion and passion that had not been seen at a county final in many a day.

It was also one of the most dramatic finishes to a county final in quite a few years coming as it did at the end of a contest that never really lived up to the excitement produced in the drawn encounter a week previous.  Clontibret though had learned more from that drawn encounter and they came back with a revamped game plan, a vastly improved work rate and a greater hunger and all those factors combined to galvanise Clontibret right from the very early stages. They got down to business right away and never allowed Magheracloone to settle on the ball or to dictate play as they had done the previous Sunday.

Colm Greening was back to his commanding best in defence and Martin Corey did an excellent policing job on Tomas Freeman, enjoying a little rub of the green on the odd occasion but totally focused on the job in hand.

John Paul Mone was a tower of strength at centre back, Darach Mooney prompting and probing as always and Paul McGuigan who was switched to midfield to replace Anthony Rooney ran himself literally to a standstill.

Up-front the bulk of Clontibret’s  scoring was done by Conor McManus who finished with nine points, seven from frees, some of which he earned himself, but it was the combination work of  Vincent Corey, Fergal Mone and Rodney Gorman that helped keep the Magheracloone defence under pressure and well stretched at times.

Dessie Mone, too, played his part, a role that varied from playing in the attack to dropping back as the extra man in defence where his acumen as a defender was repeatedly seen to good effect.  He picked up a yellow card for refusing to leave the scene of the penalty as Tomas Freeman was delayed from taking the spot kick but by that stage perhaps Mone had his work done and the yellow card was a small price to pay.

Brendan Og Magennis was introduced again last Sunday and again to good effect, getting meaningfully involved to help keep his side in the ascendancy.

Paul McElroy though was the hero of the hour, he dealt capably with anything that came his way during the match, fielding high balls, kick outs and other aspect of his goalkeeping duties but it was his save two and a half minutes into stoppage time to deny Tomas Freeman from the penalty spot that he will be remembered for, and for many a long day.

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