ULSTER SEMI-FINAL DOUBLE SETS UP JULY SHOWPIECE

5 July 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan’s dream of Ulster glory is still alive after their senior and minor footballers both made it into the Ulster Final with victory over old rivals Cavan at Clones last Saturday. by COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan’s minor and senior footballers qualified for a unique Ulster final double when they both won last Saturday’s semi-finals in Clones. For the seniors, a spirited finish saw off the challenge of Cavan. A typically keenly-contested local derby was close throughout, with the teams level six times, but Monaghan were deserving winners over the 70 minutes, even if they only had a point to spare in the end. After trailing by 0-5 to 1-0 after 20 minutes, Monaghan battled back to draw level at 1-5 to 0-8 by the half-time whistle and they gave an improved performance after the restart, with only some poor finishing preventing them from opening up a decent lead. Ultimately, Monaghan’s greater experience and the introduction of counted in their favour as they banished the memories of last year’s Ulster semi-final defeat against Down and the capitulation in Cavan in this year’s National League.

Colin Walshe gave an exhibition of defending, keeping in-form Cavan forward Martin Dunne, who had hit 14 points in the previous two games, very quiet. Dunne got just one point from play, while Walshe made a number of timely interceptions in an all-action display. Beside him, Drew Wylie dealt capably with the threat of Eugene Keating, while Kieran Duffy performed well in his sweeper role and Dessie Mone worked hard in an intriguing and even duel with Cian Mackey.

Owen Lennon made his usual catches at midfield, as well as making a huge shoulder on Ronan Flanagan late on which summed up the physicality of the game. Darren Hughes also got through a lot of work, the highlight of which was an inspirational point just before half-time, while his brother Kieran shone throughout, making a number of catches and incisive passes in a display which would have grabbed more headlines had a couple of efforts gone over the bar to match his well-taken first-half point.

The decision to leave Paul Finlay on the bench until early in the second half paid off, as the experienced Stephen Gollogly (making his first inter-county start of 2013) and Gavin Doogan, who was making his long-awaited championship debut, put in all-action performances, which fitted the Monaghan game-plan. In the inside line, Conor McManus put a somewhat frustrating start behind him to torment the Cavan defence and kick some ….

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