6 August 2021 No Comments by The Northern Standard


Monaghan’s Croke Park record against Tyrone sadly remains at zero wins and the games have all tended to follow a horribly similar pattern. The game was once again largely played on Tyrone’s terms after a burst before half-time saw them build up a fivepoint lead. A bit like Rory McIlroy’s recent history at the majors, where he has tended to fall adrift before finding his form belatedly, Monaghan rediscovered the verve that had seen them score 5-28 in their previous two championship matches.

The half-time introduction of Niall Kearns and Colin Walshe (initially up front, before dropping a little deeper) and latterly Kieran Hughes helped Monaghan bring renewed energy and drive. Monaghan’s greater intensity was underlined by how players threw themselves at four loose balls that came back off the woodwork at either end to win each one, but they couldn’t quite maintain the tempo of a brilliant third quarter. Having worked their way onto level terms, Monaghan were unable to edge ahead and Tyrone retained their composure to regain the lead, before playing keep-ball during added time.


Monaghan have reinvented themselves as a goal-scoring team this year, hitting the net four times against Donegal in the league and repeating the trick in their Ulster semi-final win over Armagh. There was optimism that this goal-scoring touch could prove pivotal in turning the tables on Tyrone, but just like their league clash, this one remained goalless. In total, Monaghan’s five games this year excluding the two derbies with Tyrone produced 17 green flags (3.4 on average), but these teams cancelled each other out once again in terms of clear sights at goal.


The evolving role of goalkeepers has been under the spotlight this year, as exemplified by Rory Beggan and Niall Morgan when these teams drew in Omagh in May. The pair took this on to a new level last Saturday at Croke Park, with both pushing forward in possession and on opposition kick-outs. Morgan went all the way up to the Tyrone full-forward line on one of Beggan’s restarts to pick up Monaghan sub Andrew Woods. Beggan was in the thick of the action throughout: despite a testing first half as Tyrone put the pressure on, the 2018 All-Star continued to get on the ball, even going within inches of a point from play in the 49th minute.

When a booming Morgan kick overshot Beggan late on, George Hamilton shouting ‘danger here’ with the Jaws theme in the background may as well have been playing around Croke Park as Mattie Donnelly bore down on goal. Con Houlihan’s famous line about Paddy Cullen and the burning cake also came to mind as Beggan showed a remarkable turn of pace to pick Donnelly’s pocket and calmly chip the ball up to start a counter-attack that ended with a Monaghan wide at the other end. The bold approach is not just isolated to senior level either, with Charlie Smyth and Ryan Farrelly adopting roving roles in Friday’s Ulster U-20 final, so this is something…

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