1 July 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan and Donegal return to Cavan this Saturday evening with a place in the Ulster Senior Football Championship Final again
the prize up for grabs as this rivalry opens up another chapter. by COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan will have been relieved to have left last Saturday night with their bid to retain the Ulster title intact after a game that could easily have seen Donegal qualify for a sixth consecutive provincial final.

On the balance of the 70-plus minutes – during which the teams were level seven times –there could be few quibbles about the result, but Monaghan were grateful for some uncharacteristically poor finishing by Donegal. Michael Murphy had a rare off-day with his free-taking, while Patrick McBrearty (despite top-scoring for Donegal with 0-5) also missed a couple of chances very much within his range, while Rory Gallagher’s side also created a number of openings for a goal before Odhrán Mac Niallais slid the ball past Rory Beggan on 56 minutes.

Mac Niallais had ghosted into space twice against Fermanagh to find the net and similar moves last Saturday created chances for McBrearty, who fired over the bar, and SFC debutant Kieran Gillespie, who was denied by Beggan. Incredibly, the Mac Niallais goal was Donegal’s first against Monaghan in the Ulster SFC for all of 60 years, ending a run of seven consecutive clean sheets for Monaghan in the fixture, stretching way back to 1956. That score was one of a number that shifted momentum in an absorbing, hard-hitting encounter where the pendulum swung several times.

Donegal made the better start, but Monaghan gradually settled into the game and they were 0-5 to 0-3 up on 25 minutes, only for McBrearty to kick the next three points. A fourth free of the first half from Conor McManus sent Monaghan in on level terms and after again conceding the first score after the restart, they found some …

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