MONAGHAN KEEP THEIR COOL TO MAKE WINNING START TO LEAGUE CAMPAIGN

4 February 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By COLM SHALVEY

An imperfect performance, but a perfect start to the Allianz National Football League for Monaghan, who finished strongly to spoil Roscommon’s return to Division One in Kiltoom last Sunday.

Monaghan trailed for the bulk of this match, having played against the elements in the first half, but a spirited comeback sent the visiting supporters home happy from a venue that was about as far away from ‘glamorous’ as you’re likely to get in the top flight. Being six points down at half-time wasn’t a disaster given the strength of the wind, but the abundance of errors in possession was a concern, as Monaghan made a string of uncharacteristically sloppy passes. The second 35 minutes would see the visitors kick nine wides to take their total to 13, but they rattled in 1-4 in the last ten to claim an important two points.

Monaghan lined out with 12 of the starting team from last July’s Ulster SFC Final and their approach to the game was underlined by the team and management grouping into a huddle before the start of the second half and again at the end. Malachy O’Rourke’s side maintained their composure and will to win, even after falling seven points adrift within a minute of the restart.

Ciaráin Murtagh had hit 1-2 in the first half – the goal coming from a penalty after he had been brought down by Ryan Wylie, which saw the Young Footballer of the Year nominee black-carded – but Roscommon’s top scorer also later received a black card for a needless trip on Colin Walshe. Monaghan didn’t score from play in the first half, with their two points coming from superbly-taken frees by Conor McManus and Rory Beggan.

A Dermot Malone goal in the 39th minute gave Monaghan a lifeline and they gradually worked their way back into it. Neil McAdam eventually brought Monaghan level, but there was still time for plenty more drama. Fintan Cregg’s fifth point regained the lead for the hosts, but a great point by Malone tied it up again and from the following kick-out, Roscommon gave possession up to McManus, who burst through to fire to the net.

Roscommon were very much up for this on their return to Division One after a 13-year absence and their desperation to hold on to their lead was shown by blocks on Barry McGinn and Darren Hughes ten minutes from time, but Monaghan’s experience told down the home straight.

Monaghan’s full-back line looked somewhat shaky early on…

murray

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