26 June 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan are in a third consecutive Ulster SFC Final for the first time since the 1920s after they kept their cool to beat Fermanagh last Sunday. by COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan were pushed for 55 minutes of this game, albeit without ever looking in real danger, before Ryan McCluskey’s sending-off helped open the floodgates in the closing stages. The teams were level five times in the first half, but Monaghan finished it with a flourish, as a Conor McManus free and a point by Darren Hughes, who finished from a very tight angle at the end of a rampaging run, sent them in two points up.

Monaghan had doubled their tally to 0-14 by the 50-minute mark as they pulled away, but a spirited Fermanagh hit back with a brace of fine outside-of-the-boot points from Declan McCusker, either side of Seán Quigley’s fifth of the game from a long-range free, to halve their deficit to three. McCluskey’s red card for kneeing Owen Duffy signalled the end of their chances, however, and Monaghan turned on the style in the last 15 minutes to end up with their biggest score in an Ulster SFC game since Antrim were hit for 3-17 back in 1990. That total could have been equalled, but for Stephen Gollogly having a penalty saved by Thomas Treacy after the Carrickmacross forward was tripped as he bore down on goal three minutes from time.

Monaghan had already got their goal by that stage through McManus, which was just one of a number of highlights in a performance that saw them kick 1-13 – and only one wide – in the second half. Kieran Hughes provided many of those, including his first point after catching a high ball in from his brother, and his third, which was a first-time effort following a pacy run down the sideline by Dessie Mone. Monaghan’s finishing was the most clinical so far in this year’s Ulster championship, converting 64% of their shots, and their turnover rate was also very high, although they will need to win more of their own kick-outs next time out.

Fermanagh were also mostly accurate in front of the posts, although Quigley will be haunted by the straightforward free he missed inside the last ten minutes. Pete McGrath was bullish about his side’s performance and their chances of getting a run through the qualifiers, where they will renew their rivalry with Antrim on Sunday week.

All in, it was an …



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