29 May 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan once again edged out neighbours Cavan by a single point thanks to a strong finish to last Sunday’s absorbing game. by COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan took an early lead through a Conor McManus free, but they didn’t manage to go ahead again until the hour-mark as they were pushed to the pin of their collar by a well-organised Cavan side. A combination of Monaghan mistakes and determined defending by the hosts meant that a nervy-looking Farney side struggled for scores in the first half, with a brilliant individual effort from McManus their sole point from play. Cavan finished the half well to change ends ahead by 0-9 to 0-7 and although Monaghan began the second half with purpose, the game looked to be slipping away from them when they fell four points adrift with 47 minutes gone. This Monaghan team is made of stern stuff, though, and with the help of the introduction of some vastly-experienced campaigners, they had the know-how to kick seven of the last nine points.

Malachy O’Rourke brought four players – Dick Clerkin, Colin Walshe, Stephen Gollogly and Christopher McGuinness – with a combined total of almost 400 senior inter-county appearances (over 100 in the championship) off the bench in the second half. Walshe looked sharp in his first game for Monaghan since his cruciate-ligament injury against Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final and marked it in style with his first SFC point for his county. Clerkin, who provided the assist for Walshe’s left-footed finish, also kicked a fine point off his weaker side in an impressive 20 minutes, while Gollogly put in a busy half-hour, which included a good pass to McManus for his second point from play, which was a beauty.

Rory Beggan was again solid in goals as he kept a seventh clean sheet in eight Ulster SFC games. Drew Wylie, with his left leg strapped as he continues to recover from the thigh injury that put his participation in doubt, had his hands full with Cavan’s towering full-forward Michael Argue, while Ryan Wylie fared better on Niall McDermott, holding the Breffni free-taker scoreless from play. Dessie Mone grew more into the game as it went on and his excellent point from the left wing after he had pushed up was one of a few that inspired his team in the closing stages.

Fintan Kelly and Vincent Corey both had their moments, but the pick of the half-back line was Karl O’Connell, who continued his progress in 2015 with a big display on Cian Mackey. The Tyholland man’s blistering pace was seen to best effect directly from the throw-in at the start of both halves, which saw him win a 20-metre free and fist a point, which was his first in the championship, although not his first score, which was that memorable opening-minute goal in the 2012 win over Antrim.

Neil McAdam’s man-marking job on Gearóid McKiernan restricted Cavan’s talisman’s influence on general play throughout, while Kieran and Darren Hughes also got through a lot of work around midfield, with the former shaking off a knock he sustained in the first half and the latter …


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