8 May 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan           4-10

Longford                 0-10


MONAGHAN made a fine start to the Nicky Rackard Cup with a convincing win over Longford at wet and windy Clones last Saturday. Despite playing two-thirds of this game with 14 men after Fergal Rafter was harshly sent off for two bookings in quick succession, Monaghan won both halves by two goals to go through with plenty to spare. Longford began with purpose and trailed by just a point on 25 minutes, playing against the elements, but Monaghan upped their game to outscore the 2014 Lory Meagher Cup winners by 3-6 to 0-4 from then on.

Monaghan’s two changes from the NHL Division 3A Final defeat against Tyrone came in the absence of Peter Treanor and Conor Boyle, which saw Jamie Guinan make a first county start of the year and Pauric Dowdall come in at full-forward to repay his club-mate, manager Trevor Hilliard, by hitting a hat-trick of goals. Éanna Mac Suibhne, Martin Murphy, Niall Garland and Mark Treanor also played key roles for Monaghan, while Joe O’Brien (who impressed with 0-7) and Luke Kelly were the only two starters to score for Longford, who lost key players Eoin Donnellan and Martin Coyle to injury.

Longford were first off the mark with a fine point by Joe O’Brien in the first minute, but that would be their only time in the lead. Monaghan quickly hit back when Mark Treanor won a penalty, which was a one-on-one effort; a new rule that referee Gearóid McGrath (who handed out eight yellow cards in what was far from a dirty game) appeared to need a reminder about. Stephen Lambe sent it past Longford keeper Dara Duggan and Ronan Meegan soon added Monaghan’s first point, before play was stopped for an injury to Eoin Donnellan. The free-scoring Longford forward managed to get up and send in a long ball, from which O’Brien was denied a goal by Kieran Hanniffy, but he limped off just after that.

O’Brien pointed the resulting ’65, but Martin Murphy replied with a good point for Monaghan, who then had a goal chance, which Lambe drove wide. Points from play by O’Brien and substitute Cian Kavanagh kept Longford in touch, only for Meegan to win and score a free from the half-way line, before Niall Garland set up Éanna …


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