15 July 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan’s summer came to an early end after a shock defeat at home to Longford in last Saturday’s Round 2B Qualifier at St
Tiarnach’s Park. by COLM SHALVEY

Longford and their manager Denis Connerton, who was also at the helm when the Leinster county won in extra-time in Clones back in 2002, came back to haunt Monaghan once again, with goals by Mickey Quinn and Robbie Smyth proving decisive.

Having become accustomed to contesting Ulster finals and All-Ireland quarter-finals in the last few years – winning the provincial title in 2013 and 2015 – this result saw Monaghan exit the qualifiers before the destination of the Anglo-Celt Cup has been decided.

As much as it was a shock result, Monaghan could have no complaints on the day as Longford deservedly continued their impressive qualifier record against Ulster opponents, which now stands at eight wins out of 12. Longford have won their last four championship games against Ulster teams, with this one coming on the back of last month’s defeat of Down (another 2016 Division One team) and wins over Derry in 2012 and 2014.

Quinn’s early goal, when he poked the ball in from point-blank range after Rory Beggan had got a hand to Liam Connerton’s shot, helped Longford take a 1-4 to 0-2 lead after 15 minutes, even though they were playing against the wind. Monaghan eventually got going with an unanswered burst of 1-5 in the last ten minutes of the first half to turn a five-point deficit into a three-point lead. The goal came in the 35th minute – Colin Walshe’s first in the SFC for Monaghan – after Jack McCarron’s original effort had been parried by Longford keeper Paddy Collum.

The feeling then was that Monaghan had put their early struggles behind them and that they would assert their superiority in the second half. That didn’t happen, however, as Longford outscored the hosts by 1-7 to 0-4 to deservedly advance. Longford’s shooting from distance was very impressive, as half-back Diarmuid Masterson kicked three points from play to join the likes of James …

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