8 February 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

After comprehensively beating Meath last Sunday, Malachy O’Rourke must surely be happy with his team. by COLM SHALVEY

Football League campaign off to a flying start with a comprehensive win at home to Meath last Sunday, but what would have been most pleasing to manager Malachy O’Rourke was his team’s performance.

The game in Clones had been billed as a showdown between the top two contenders for the Division Three title, but a combination of an impressive Monaghan and a dreadful Meath made it much more one-sided than anyone would have predicted. If anything, the visitors were flattered by the final score, as they were handed a soft goal in each half and it took all of 32 minutes until they opened their second-half account. Even the first half, which ended with the sides separated by just two points, was dominated by Monaghan, who would have been further ahead but for a few missed chances, before they made their superiority count after the restart. Conor McManus stole the show in the second half, kicking six points from play, including a few from the top drawer. What made the Clontibret man’s performance even more impressive was that he put a couple of uncharacteristic first-half misses behind him to continue to give Donal Keogan (a Young Footballer of the Year nominee in 2012) a torrid time.

It was far from a one-man show, however, as Monaghan had strong performances in every line of the pitch. O’Rourke handed out four NFL debuts on the day, with Fintan Kelly and Pádraig Donaghy starting at full-back and centre-forward respectively and Jack McCarron and Peter O’Hanlon coming off the bench. Pete Dooney also made his first appearance of the season as a substitute. Kelly was the pick of the debutants with a composed display, even when Meath sent Joe Sheridan into full-forward. The Clones man made a few good breaks forward and his performance was summed up by a brave block from a Sheridan shot at goal just before half-time.

Donaghy also got through a lot of work, while McCarron looked sharp…

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