3 May 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Last Saturday was a very memorable day for Monaghan gaelic football, with their senior and minor footballers both taking silverware in a rare double. by COLM SHALVEY

Last Saturday was a memorable day for Monaghan football, with the senior and minor footballers both taking silverware in a rare double. Eight years after winning their last trophy, Monaghan won a thrilling Allianz National Football League Division Three Final against Meath. It was also the county’s first win at Croke Park since that famous NFL Division Two decider, also against Meath, back in 2005. With both teams already promoted, some suspected that there would be a lack of intensity to the game, but that wasn’t evident, although it was more open than most inter-county matches.

Monaghan got off to a flying start, with five of the forwards getting on the scoresheet in the first nine minutes and Owen Duffy adding a superb goal after being put through by Paul Finlay, who was pulling the strings to great effect. Meath replied almost immediately with a well-taken goal by Mickey Newman, but the fact that their manager Mick O’Dowd admitted to being relieved to go in just four points down at half-time told a tale about Monaghan’s superiority.

It was Meath who burst out of the traps in the second half, however, with a point from Ciarán Lenehan, an emphatic finish to the Monaghan net by fellow wing-back Davy Dalton and a free from Newman edging them ahead for the first time, but they added just two scores in the remaining half-hour. Monaghan hit back with two apiece from Duffy and Finlay and a good score from Owen Lennon, who won some fine possession at midfield, to retake a three-point lead. Conor McManus then fired just over after a fine pass from substitute Vincent Corey, but Monaghan’s lead was almost wiped out when a long ball from Séamus Kenny carried over the full-back line for Stephen Bray to round Rory Beggan and Monaghan showed character, though, to close out the game with an unanswered 1-1 from the Hughes brothers. Kieran got the goal, finishing with his right foot from a rebound after his initial shot had been parried by Meath keeper Paddy O’Rourke.

The last score showed great maturity as Monaghan kept the ball for the closing minutes. They put together 24 consecutive passes in a Barcelona-style possession football move, which finished with Corey releasing Darren Hughes, who drove forward and split the posts.

It was a great day for Monaghan’s attack, as the Farney men hit 2-16, with all but three points coming from play. Conor McManus showed his skills on the big stage, hitting five points, four from play. Meath were all too aware of the Clontibret man’s ability …

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