21 March 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan kept their National Football League promotion bid on track in a topsy-turvy derby in Armagh last Saturday night. by COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan burst out of the starting blocks at the Athletic Grounds, kicking nine unanswered points in an utterly dominant first 23 minutes, only to lose their way in the 20 minutes either side of half-time before regaining their composure to pull clear again. Armagh appeared shell-shocked by Monaghan’s devastating start and a rout looked on the cards, but the hosts, spurred on by Ethan and Caolán Rafferty, eventually got a foothold at midfield and they started to get back into the game, reducing their deficit to four points (0-10 to 0-6) by half-time. It could have been even closer by then, as Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan made a superb save to divert a Jamie Clarke penalty onto the post. Armagh added four of the first five points of the second half to close to make it a one-point game.

At that stage, Paul Grimley’s men had scored 10 of the last 12 points and had all the momentum, but the pendulum swung back in Monaghan’s favour, with Conor McManus and Jack McCarron building the lead up again. Armagh had Andy Mallon sent off on a second booking for a high tackle with 15 minutes left, but by that stage Monaghan were looking fairly comfortable again and they sealed victory in added time when substitute Darren Hughes marked his comeback from a long absence with a hip injury by firing home the only goal.

Monaghan were a bit flattered by the double-scores winning …

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