Head-In-Hands Stuff!

18 March 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Dublin are still on top of the National Football League division 1 with maximum points from their four games so far but they just escaped by the skin of their teeth at the end of this pulsating encounter in Clones on Sunday last when they held out in a frenetic if somewhat extended finish to win by the narrowest of margins.
It was a bitterly disappointing outcome for Monaghan as, despite a slow start, they had carried the game to Dublin in the second half but too often good chances were not converted into scorers and silly mistakes gifted the initiative back to the visitors when the match was there for the taking.
It was a game too that ended on a rather disappointing note with the final whistle somewhat delayed due to an injury to Darren Hughes that saw him receive extensive treatment from the Civil Defence medical personnel before being removed on a stretcher.
There was at least an eight minutes stoppage after one minute of added time had been signalled and in the final analysis Michael Duffy of Sligo, who himself courted controversy at times, played just one minute to allow Dublin to escape. Monaghan started slowly and in fact 19 minutes had elapsed before they got on the scoreboard but from there to half-time they gathered in momentum with a goal by Conor McManus in the 21st minute helping to catapult them into a narrow half-time lead.
Within two minutes of the restart they extended their lead to three but they then contrived through a combination of circumstances to allow Dublin back into the game to the extent that they hit seven points without reply between the 8th and 21st minutes to come from being three behind to going four in front.
Dublin were then reduced to 14 players with the second yellow card dismissal of Diarmuid Connolly but the nearest Monaghan got was to bring the margin down to the minimum with normal time almost up. By that stage Monaghan could have been in front but this was a match where they will look back on the chances that were missed, al least eleven shots off target, a couple from scoreable frees, six or seven other efforts dropping short into the hands of Dublin keeper Stephen Cluxton and handling errors and passing errors that saw hard-won possession needlessly squandered. Allied to that there were a number of harsh calls against Monaghan players, two of which gifted points to Dublin in the immediate aftermath of them being reduced numerically.
That said though this was a game where Monaghan can take a lot of very positive things with them. Mark Keogh in goals and the defence anchored by Darren Hughes and Dessie Mone worked hard to deny Dublin a goal for the first time in this season’s league campaign, Colin Walshe and Ciaran Duffy both worked extremely hard and were often the man in the gap while wing backs Vincent Corey and David Hughes were always seeking to drive Monaghan forward.
Dick Clerkin and Neil McAdam worked hard in midfield but it was an at times crowded area with little by way of clean possession won and whoever picked up on broken play running into heavy traffic immediately.
The Monaghan attack too sparkled for periods in the game with Mark Downey on the ‘40 and James Turley involved in a lot of Monaghan’s attacking movements while the full forward line of Christopher McGuinness, Paul Finlay and Conor Manus kept the Dublin defence on tenterhooks and with a little bit more luck they might well have garnered more than the 1-6 they hit between them.
For Dublin this was a case of being happy with a result that at times looked unlikely. They started brightly and in fact could have been further ahead than the five points lead they enjoyed before Monaghan registered their first score. In the second-half the substitutes they introduced in Alan Brogan, Paddy Andrews and Dara Nelson in particular all contributed well but ultimately it was Kevin McManamon, Diarmuid Connolly and Bernard Brogan who posed the biggest threat. Connolly was dismissed on a second yellow card in the 25th minute of the second-half but this was a match where a number of needless yellow cards were handed out in a game that was well contested but never questionable from the sporting point of view.

Full reports and more GAA news and views in The Northern Standard

Comments are closed.