Allianz National Football League Division One
Monaghan 0-19 Galway 0-14 6/2/11
Report by Colm Shavely
Monaghan made an impressive start to their National Football League campaign with a five-point win over Galway in Clones on Sunday. The game was moved to Clones after Inniskeen was deemed unplayable due to heavy rain. In his first league game since returning to the Monaghan hotseat, Eamon McEneaney handed seven players NFL debuts from the start – Mark Keogh, Kieran Duffy, Drew Wylie, Cormac Brady, David Hughes, James Turley and Christopher McGuinness. Conor Galligan and Ciarán Hughes also made their debuts off the bench, while Gavin Doogan got his first league start. After a shaky start, which saw Monaghan twice trailed by four points in the first half, the hosts settled well and they played some excellent football in the second half, which they won by ten points to three, hitting some fine scores, including two from Dick Clerkin. Clerkin, Paul Finlay, Neil McAdam, Conor McManus, Turley, David Hughes, McGuinness and Duffy were among a number of Monaghan players to impress, while Cormac Bane, Garreth Bradshaw, Gary O’Donnell, Finian Hanley and Seán Armstrong led Galway’s challenge.
Gary O’Donnell linked up with Seán Armstrong to open the scoring for Galway, before Eddie Hoare doubled the visitors’ advantage. Paul Finlay got Monaghan off the mark from a 30-metre free after a foul on Conor McManus, before Mark Keogh got an early taste of the action on his NFL debut when he saved a goalbound shot from Armstrong. Armstrong was again the creator for a good point by Cormac Bane, before Bane turned provider for a Matthew Clancy point. Greg Higgins sent over after a one-two with Gary Sice to give Galway a four-point lead, by which stage Monaghan looked in trouble. They settled down, though, helped by a fine point from McManus after Neil McAdam had caught a Keogh kick-out. Armstrong tapped over from a 13-metre free after a foul on Sice, but Christopher McGuinness got on the end of a James Turley pass to mark his Monaghan debut with a fine score. Mark Downey added a point after a high ball from Paul Finlay fell kindly for him, but a foul on Bane allowed Clancy to convert a free and keep Galway in control. McManus responded in kind after he had been fouled off the ball and the Clontibret star almost had a goal in the 20th minute when McGuinness put him through, but Galway keeper Adrian Faherty made a good save. Armstrong took a pass from Clancy to kick a nice point, but Downey replied with an equally good point from a tight angle at the end of a patient Monaghan attack. A quick free by Higgins set up a point for Sice, before good work by Bane and Sice created a point for Hoare. Monaghan got the last three points of the first half, though, with McManus kicking two points from play, either side of a Finlay free, which came after a late tackle on Dick Clerkin. That reduced the Farney men’s deficit to just a point at half-time: Monaghan 0-9 Galway 0-10.
A 20-metre free by Armstrong, after a foul on Cillian de Paor, doubled Galway’s lead less than a minute after the restart, but Finlay hit back with a fine point after strong work by Clerkin. Finlay converted a 30-metre free for a foul on Turley to bring Monaghan level for the first time, before Clerkin really got the crowd going with a spectacular left-footed point from distance. Finlay pointed another two frees after fouls on McManus and David Hughes, before Clerkin again found his range, this time with his right foot, following a one-two with midfield partner McAdam. McManus added a point from a 20-metre free after a foul on Downey, before McGuinness dispossessed Hoare and lofted over his second point. Armstrong ended 26 scoreless minutes for Galway when he sent a goal chance narrowly over the bar, via a deflection off Kieran Duffy, after O’Donnell had sent the ball across the square. McAdam restored Monaghan’s six-point lead after he had been well-placed by Clerkin, before Galway sub Danny Cummins sent another goal chance over, following a quick break by Armstrong. Bane got on the end of a Brian Faherty pass to get another late point for the Tribesmen, but Conor Galligan linked up with fellow sub Dermot Malone to kick an insurance score for Monaghan, who will be delighted to get their league campaign off to a winning start. Next up for Monaghan is a trip to the newly-redeveloped Athletic Grounds to play Armagh on Sunday, February 20.
Monaghan: M Keogh; C Walshe, D Mone, K Duffy; D Wylie, C Brady, David Hughes; N McAdam (0-1), D Clerkin (0-2); G Doogan, M Downey (0-2), J Turley; C McGuinness (0-2), P Finlay (Capt., 0-6, 5f), C McManus (0-5, 2f).
Subs: C Galligan (0-1) for Wylie (29 mins), C Hughes for Brady (45), D Malone for Turley (63), B McKenna for Downey (70).
Galway: A Faherty; K Fitzgerald, F Hanley (Capt.), K McGrath; G O’Donnell, N Coyne, A Burke; G Bradshaw, E Hoare (0-2); G Higgins (0-1), C Bane (0-2), G Sice (0-1); M Clancy (0-2, 1f), C de Paor, S Armstrong (0-4, 2f).
Subs: D Reilly for Fitzgerald (H-T), N Coleman for de Paor (46), D Cummins (0-1) for Clancy (51), B Faherty for Coyne (63).
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).