3 May 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan 2-16
Meath 3-08

MONAGHAN and Meath served up a thrilling climax to the Allianz football league division 3 when the sides met in Croke Park on Saturday evening last in a game that was in the balance right to the very finish before Monaghan clinched it with a late goal and a point to take their first league silverware since 2005.

It was a deserved victory for Monaghan as they had dominated the game for lengthy periods but Meath pushed the issue to the very limit and there was only one point between the sides with four minutes of normal time remaining after Stephen Bray had plundered a goal that threw Meath a lifeline and reduced the deficit to the minimum just seconds before he was substituted. In the end though Meath were unable to capitalise any further as Monaghan regrouped and struck with deadly effect for a goal by Kieran Hughes when he collected the rebound after his initial shot was blocked and crashed to the net with Darren Hughes then registering an insurance point a minute into stoppage time.

This was a game though that asked a number of questions of both sides and there will be aspects of Monaghan’s play that will give plenty of room for work and improvement as they now prepare for the Ulster championship, but winning the division 3 cup, having already secured promotion prior to the final, will give Monaghan added confidence as they now step up their preparations for their meeting with Antrim in the Ulster championship on June 9th.

There was also a degree of wastefulness on the part of both sides with Monaghan hitting 10 wides in all, six in the first-half, and Meath registering 14 in total, seven in each half and some of those missed chances on both sides were from very scoreable opportunities, another area where both will seek to improve. The Monaghan defence too was caught napping on a couple of occasions as Meath registered goals but overall they restricted the Meath attack reasonably well and forced Meath manager Mick O’Dowd to substitute his entire half forward line, although Paddy Gilsenan had to be replaced due to an ankle injury.

That said though this was a morale booster for Monaghan and a victory in Croke Park at any level has to be seen as …

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