20 January 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By John Graham
In their opening game against Armagh, Down demonstrated their intent for the coming season with a resounding performance and victory and they sent out another message in Clones on Sunday last as they powered to victory over a disappointing if considerably under strength Monaghan side in this largely one-way contest that attracted an attendance of just over 2000 people.
Down laid the foundation for this victory with two scintillating periods either side of half-time, the first that yielded 2-4 in the final 10 minutes of the first half and the second that yielded an unanswered 1-3 in the opening eight minutes of the second-half against a Monaghan side that at that stage were simply chasing shadows.
Down were dominant in practically every position, they worked hard in defence, they dominated the aerial exchanges around the middle while in attack they always had options with Marcus Miskelly and Benny Coulter while the towering Kalum King proved a real handful at full forward.
The early stages though gave little indication as to how events were going to unfold either side of half-time although even in those earlier stages Down were dominating possession and creating chances but simply not putting them away.
Monaghan on the other hand contrived to make life even more difficult for themselves by frittering away hard-won possession, being turned over too easily too often and too many players simply taking the wrong option.
Monaghan too lacked the finishing power that Down demonstrated and but for the trusty left boot of Paul Finlay who accounted for 8 of their 11 points Monaghan would have been in even greater trouble.
True Monaghan had seven players on colleges duty and are also without the services of a number of others who are nursing injuries or trying to get back to match fitness but that does not completely explain this very disappointing display when very little if anything went the way they had planned or the way they had hoped.
After both sides had missed early chances they were level at one point apiece, Paul Finlay cancelling out Aidan Carr’s effort from a free but that was the only time that the sides were level.
Within 30 seconds of Finlay’s point …

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