MONAGHAN FINELY POISED AFTER DOWN ENCOUNTER AND FACE DUBLIN AT THE END OF THREE-WEEK BREAK

12 February 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Colm Shalvey

Monaghan are perfectly poised in Division One of the Allianz National Football League ahead of the break, following a hard-earned win over Down in Clones last Sunday. Monaghan made it back-to-back wins at the start of a top-flight campaign for the first time since 1987, but they had to work hard to see off a much-improved Down team. Éamonn Burns and his team arrived on the back of a comprehensive defeat at home to Donegal, but they gave a spirited performance that pushed Monaghan all the way to the end.

Monaghan recovered from a slow start to take charge of the game with six unanswered points between the 17th and 24th minutes. Having led by 0-9 to 0-6 at half-time, Monaghan opened up a five-point lead by the end of the third quarter, but they could only manage one further score and Down rallied to close the gap to two. The Mourne men were left to rue kicking 13 wides – three more than Monaghan – but the hosts could have put the result beyond doubt much earlier as they were unable to take any of a glut of goal chances.

Conor McManus saw one shot deflected out for a ’45 after Darren Hughes broke a high ball from Colin Walshe down to him, while Shane Carey’s flicked effort was denied by Kane, with Hughes being blocked from the rebound. Ryan McAnespie had perhaps the best opportunity ten minutes from time when he linked up with Carey at the end of a flowing move, but he was unable to hit the target.

Down will have been content to have held Monaghan’s twin inside threat of McManus and Darren Hughes to just two points between them, but Malachy O’Rourke will be happy with the contribution of other players, with nine players contributing to…

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