9 March 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

MONAGHAN UNITED’S first step back onto the plain of the Airtricity League Premier Division – taken at a largely populated Gortakeegan on Friday night last with Sean McCaffrey’s Dundalk the visitors – was a reasonably surefooted one despite a profligacy in front of goal that saw this north-east derby encounter end in scoreless deadlock.
With a few months of expectant build-up following last season’s triumphant promotion march, and with traditional rivals Dundalk now helmed by a warmly regarded prodigal son in the form of the canny McCaffrey, this fixture was almost inevitably bound to sag under the burden of anticipation.
What unfolded on the pitch was a rather dour war of nerves between two considerably reconstituted sides both tactically weighted on the side of the conservative, each anxious to emerge with reputation unblemished from a fixture where the ante of the bragging rights had been considerably upped.
United, although they had former Oriel Park custodian Chris Bennion and the frame of the goal to thank for one or two escapes, will reflect on a game in which they cultivated the superior quality of chances and seemed to have much more in the tank towards the conclusion of the game than their opponents.
Had Jordan Keegan found the finishing touch to match his sometimes audacious industry, Roddy Collins’ charges would have been heading into Friday night’s encounter with champions Shamrock Rovers with their new Premier Division account handsomely in credit.
With six minutes remaining of conventional time and the game starting to peter out as a contest with any real edge, second half substitutes Owen Humphrey and Conor Murphy worked a clever combination, the latter sliding …

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