20 April 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan 1st XV 13
Strabane 1st XV 8
Monaghan claimed their first senior trophy for nearly thirty years with a controlled display of rugby at Ravenhill on Saturday last. There was an expectation coming into the game that this was a more balanced Monaghan side than might have previously competed in finals, brimming with attacking talent. Under the tutelage of David McGregor, and the captaincy of Marc McArdle, they had a keen eye for the win, and although the 2011/12 season hadn’t brought the anticipated league success, there was no lack of confidence. Four of the squad, Gary Treanor, Paddy Sheridan, Wesley Moffett and Darren Berry had been to Ravenhill with the Monaghan 1st XV before in 2002, where they were beaten by Antrim. Indeed, such is their longevity, that even back then, Treanor and Sheridan would have been perceived as senior players, and the recollection and experience of that defeat surely drove Monaghan forward.
As it turned out, and contrary to the reputations of both teams, the vital scores came from periods of sustained forward play, but the game was still exciting, right up the wire. Defences were on top, and it is hard to recall a successful line break from Strabane throughout the game, such was the intensity of the Monaghan tackling. Crucially, Monaghan sustained their game plan, at least until the last five minutes when the barbarians were certainly at the gate. It was this discipline, a virtue which couldn’t always be applied to Monaghan teams over the years, which really saw them through.
1983/84 was the last time that a Monaghan 1st XV were successful in Ravenhill, Paul Bowe lifting what was then known as the Harden Cup. Veterans of that match, including Paul Bowe, coach David McGregor, selector Gerry Sloane as well as Dick Sleator, Paul McGillen and John Taylor were in the crowd in Belfast. In the interim, there have been successes at various levels, and indeed, substitute David Millar captained the Monaghan under 16s to cup victory in 2006. That encapsulates, one supposes, the most joyful element in this contemporary victory. Many of the old guard are still involved in …

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