FLAT OUT FOR THE TITLE

3 April 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan 0-19
Laois 0-14
By JOHN GRAHAM

MONAGHAN finished strongly, but in truth they needed to, to clinch victory in this NFL Division 2 encounter at Clones last Sunday.

Malachy O’Rourke’s men finished strongly to keep their promotion drive firmly on track and they can now approach their final game with confidence that they can book their place in the division 2 final for the third time in six years and with that promotion to division 1 for next season.

On the last two occasions that Laois had visited Monaghan they had been victorious and there were times in last Sunday’s game when they looked as if they might plunder the points they so desperately needed to stave off the threat of relegation but in the end Monaghan were just that little bit too experienced and streetwise although Laois will look to a number of missed chances that could see them plying their wares in division 3 season.

The game saw a first start for Dick Clerkin in the current campaign, coming in as a late replacement for Owen Lennon, and Darren Hughes again made a second half appearance that augurs well for his progress to full match fitness.

Played in damp and somewhat greasy conditions this was a game that was played at a cracking pace throughout and while legs tired towards the end neither side could be faulted for effort and it must be said that Monaghan had to weather a couple of periods of indifference when the more physically strong Laois men threatened to take over.

Monaghan struggled around midfield where the towering John O’Loughlin and Kevin Meaney held sway for long periods but crucially Laois lacked the forwards of the quality of Kieran Hughes and Conor McManus who between them registered ten of Monaghan’s points.

Substitutions, too, played a major part in this victory with three of Monaghan’s substitutes registering scores and Stephen Gollogly having a marked impact, not only with his two points, but for his work rate and vision in setting up scores for others.

MINUTES SILENCE
The game started at a cracking pace following the observation of a minutes silence as a mark of respect to the late Pauline Devlin.
Both sides missed early chances before Kieran Hughes put Monaghan two points in front with strikes in the third and fourth minutes.

Ross Munnelly opened the visitors account with a point from a free in the sixth minute but Monaghan responded with two points when Gavan Doogan fisted …

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