MONAGHAN MAKE WINNING RETURN TO DIV 2 FOOTBALL IN PROMOTION SHOOTOUT

12 April 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan ensured that their stay in Division Three of the Allianz NFL was a short one when they eased to victory against Antrim to finish top of the table. by COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan ensured that their stay in Division Three of the Allianz National Football League was a short one when they eased to victory against Antrim in Clones last Sunday to finish top of the group.

After letting the opportunity to secure promotion slip away in Roscommon in round six, Monaghan were in no mind to miss their second chance, as they put Antrim away with minimal fuss. The Saffrons almost took Monaghan’s scalp in the Ulster SFC first round last May, but they never looked like coming close to that last Sunday, as Malachy O’Rourke’s side landed a psychological blow ahead of their forthcoming championship clash.

First-half goals by Christopher McGuinness and Kieran Hughes – the latter an excellent finish after an equally pin-point pass by Colin Walshe – sent Monaghan on their way to a 2-9 to 0-7 interval lead. Darren Hughes burst through the Antrim defence for a superb solo goal on 48 minutes to put the result beyond doubt. The three majors brought Monaghan’s total number of goals in this year’s league to ten – more than the previous two years (six in 2012 and three in 2011) put together. They could even have had another couple on Sunday as they repeatedly cut open the visitors’ defence.
It will be encouraging for O’Rourke and co. that they put their attacking struggles in Roscommon behind them to rack up an impressive tally of 3-16, even with Tommy Freeman absent through injury and Conor McManus and Paul Finlay restricted to just one point from play between the two of them. Much of that was down to McGuinness and Kieran Hughes, who landed 1-2 each, with McGuinness taking confidence from his return to form with Ballybay the previous Sunday to produce one of his best performances for the Monaghan seniors to date.

Despite being sent off on a second yellow card for the second game in a row, the Scotstown man will be available for the final, which falls outside his …

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