Allianz National Football League Division One Monaghan 1-9 Dublin 0-13 13/3/11
Monaghan went close to ending Dublin’s 100% record in this year’s NFL Division One, but they fell short by a point in Clones on Sunday. Monaghan recovered from a very slow start to lead by two points at half-time, helped by a Conor McManus goal, but they again failed to get into their stride in the second half, allowing Dublin to hit seven unanswered points and move four clear. Eamon McEneaney’s men again came back, but 12 wides and a series of shots dropped short ultimately proved costly as they fell to a second one-point defeat of this league campaign. Monaghan will be encouraged by impressive performances from Kieran Duffy, Dessie Mone, Christopher McGuinness and David Hughes, while Dublin had Diarmuid Connolly, Barry Cahill, Seán Murray and Darren Daly to thank for maintaining their winning run.
Dublin made all the running in the early stages, with four points in the first five minutes. Kevin McManamon opened the scoring after he had been well-placed by Barry Cahill, before Tomás Quinn doubled Dublin’s lead. Declan Lally added a third point after a good break by full-back Seán Murray and a Diarmuid Connolly score continued Dublin’s dominance. It could have been worse for Monaghan, as Bernard Brogan missed a very scoreable free, while Brogan and Paul Flynn both had shots blocked by Kieran Duffy. Monaghan started to enjoy more possession, but their finishing let them down as they kicked three wides and dropped three shorts into the hands of Stephen Cluxton. Connolly linked up with Cahill to give Dublin a five-point lead, before Monaghan finally got off the mark in the 19th minute through a left-footed effort from Conor McManus, following good work by Christopher McGuinness.
Bernard Brogan responded with a similar score at the end of a burst by Ger Brennan, but Monaghan got right back into the game on 21 minutes when a point-attempt by Paul Finlay dropped short and McManus beat Cluxton to it to fist the ball to the net. Finlay brought Monaghan level when he converted a 20-metre free for a foul on McManus, who curled over a good point from play after taking a pass from Mark Downey. Monaghan keeper Mark Keogh had to react quickly to save a Tomás Quinn shot after a Paul Casey centre had broken kindly for the Dublin corner-forward, before another foul on McManus allowed Finlay to kick his second point from a 25-metre free. A patient build-up created a great point for Dessie Mone, which gave Monaghan a two-point lead at half-time: 1-5 to 0-6.
Downey put Monaghan three ahead two minutes into the second half, following good approach play by Finlay and McGuinness, but a pair of close-range frees by Bernard Brogan, after fouls on himself and McManamon, kept Dublin in touch. Alan Brogan levelled it up with a well-taken point after a one-two with Cahill, before setting off on a powerful run to set up a point for fellow sub Dara Nelson. A third Dublin sub got in on the act when Paddy Andrews raced through to kick a point, before Connolly curled over a fine score. A 20-metre free by Bernard Brogan, after Dessie Mone had been harshly adjudged to have fouled McManamon, gave the visitors a four-point lead, but Monaghan rallied to haul themselves back into contention. McGuinness ended 20 scoreless minutes for the hosts when he applied a nice finish to a well-worked counter-attack started by a Colin Walshe interception, before Tommy Freeman got on the end of a Dessie Mone pass to kick his first point of the season.
Dublin played the last ten minutes with 14 men after Connolly was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Dick Clerkin, while a 30-metre free by Finlay, after an off-the-ball foul on Downey, closed the gap to the minimum. Monaghan had a goal chance with five minutes left when Finlay, McManus and Darren Hughes combined to put Owen Lennon through, but his shot was bravely blocked by Dublin corner-back Darren Daly. Dublin also went close to a goal when McManamon lobbed a shot narrowly wide, but the Dubs held on for a fourth win from four, as Monaghan failed to take a number of chances. The end of the game was marred by an injury to Darren Hughes. The Monaghan captain on the day shipped a heavy tackle as Monaghan tried to find a late equaliser and he had to be stretchered off after a delay of nearly eight minutes. Monaghan will now be in need of points when they travel to Newry to play Down next Saturday evening.
Monaghan: M Keogh; K Duffy, Darren Hughes (Capt.), C Walshe; V Corey, D Mone (0-1), David Hughes; D Clerkin, N McAdam; J Turley, M Downey (0-1), D Morgan; C McGuinness (0-1), P Finlay (0-3f), C McManus (1-2).
Subs: O Lennon for Morgan (H-T), T Freeman (0-1) for Turley (55), D Freeman for D Hughes (inj., 73)
Dublin: S Cluxton; D Daly, S Murray, R O’Carroll; P Casey (Capt.), G Brennan, D Lally; D Bastick, B Cahill; P Flynn, K McManamon (0-1), MD MacAuley; T Quinn (0-1), D Connolly (0-3), B Brogan (0-4, 3f).
Subs: D Nelson (0-1) for Lally (inj., 28), A Brogan (0-1) for Quinn, B Cullen for Flynn (both H-T), P Andrews (0-1) for MacAauley (43), P Brogan for O’Carroll (54).
Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo)