HOPES HIGH DESPITE WEEKEND LOW

22 April 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

It was a weekend of disappointment for Monaghan,with four county teams losing semi-finals (three to Donegal), but the performance of the Under-21’s in particular bodes well for the near future. by COLM SHALVEY

The Eirgrid Under-21 Football Championship is set to be phased out, with next year’s renewal being the last before it is replaced by an Under-20 grade, but there was no shortage of pundits extolling its virtues after a thrilling semi-final double-header in Tullamore last Saturday. After Mayo had finished strongly to squeeze past Dublin in the first game, Monaghan and Cork produced a cracking game of football that saw both sets of forwards get the better of their opponents.

Monaghan would surely have been happy with their tally of 1-16, had they been offered it before the game, as they had conceded just 0-23 in their three Ulster championship matches and the most they had leaked all year was 1-14 in their Shamrock Cup group game against Tyrone, but they were just unable to get to grips with Cork’s lethal attacking power.

Barry McGinn hit 1-5 in the first half, on his way to increasing his championship tally to 2-20, as Monaghan showed no fear of attacking Cork, but the Munster champions broke through for goals by Peter Kelleher and Ryan Harkin to lead by a point at half-time. Cork maintained a narrow advantage throughout the second half and although Monaghan rallied late on to halve their deficit from four to two, it wasn’t enough to make a first All-Ireland U-21 Final.

Cork, whose 2-15 total all came from play, had a potent mix of pace, height, power and accuracy up front, as their six starting forwards all got on the scoresheet, along with two substitutes. Much of Monaghan’s attacking play went through McGinn, Conor McCarthy and Fearghal McMahon, who had kicked three points from …

U21

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