Allianz National Football League Division One
Monaghan 1-18 Mayo 2-13 10/4/11
Monaghan beat Mayo in Inniskeen on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep them up in Division One of the NFL. Having stayed up by the skin of their teeth in 2010, the luck wasn’t with Monaghan this year, as Galway’s draw with Dublin consigned the Farney men to relegation. Eamon McEneaney’s side finished level on points with Armagh, who stayed up by virtue of their better record in the teams’ head-to-head.
A bright start and an impressive final quarter – in which they outscored Mayo by seven points to two – secured the points for Monaghan in an entertaining game, even though they gave away a soft goal and failed to put away a couple of goal chances. The Monaghan team showed five changes from the one that lost to Kerry, with Darren Hughes, Mark McNally, Owen Lennon, Paul Finlay and Tommy Freeman replacing Cormac Brady, David Hughes, James Turley, Dermot Malone and Owen Duffy. Darren Hughes, Dessie Mone, Tommy Freeman, Paul Finlay (who top-scored with 11 points), Kieran Duffy, Owen Lennon and Neil McAdam impressed for Monaghan. Goal-poacher Jason Doherty, James Burke, Keith Higgins and Ger Cafferkey were best for Mayo, who had already secured their top-flight status for next year.
Jason Doherty opened the scoring after just 20 seconds with a nice point off the outside of his boot, but Tommy Freeman quickly equalised with a left-footed effort after a pass from Mark Downey. Kevin McLoughlin restored Mayo’s lead after Tom Parsons had won a Mark Keogh kick-out, before James Burke fisted over at the end of a counter-attack involving Parsons and Doherty. Monaghan took the lead on five minutes, though, when Christopher McGuinness did well to win a hit-and-hope shot from Tommy Freeman and set up Freeman for his first goal of the year. A foul on Freeman allowed Conor McManus to double Monaghan’s advantage from a 20-metre free, but Alan Freeman linked up with Aidan Campbell to keep Mayo in touch. Doherty levelled it up when he tapped over a 13-metre free for a foul on Enda Varley, before Monaghan missed two goalchances in the space of three minutes. The first saw McManus denied by a diving save from Mayo keeper David Clarke, before Finlay sliced a shot wide, both after good work by Owen Lennon. The lively Tommy Freeman sent over a fine point after strong work by Neil McAdam, before Finlay and Campbell swapped points from 30-metre frees. Another 30-metre free by Finlay, after a foul on Dick Clerkin, was quickly cancelled out by Campbell from play, but Finlay replied with two in quick succession – the first from a 40-metre free for a foul on McManus and the second a great 45-metre score from play after he had been picked out by Darren Hughes. Campbell won and scored a 20-metre free for Mayo and although Doherty was off-target from a 25-metre free just afterwards, he soon made amends after Conor Galligan had been adjudged to have touched the ball on the ground. Monaghan’s lead was now down to a point but it got worse in the last minute of first-half normal time when a short kick-out by Keogh was intercepted by Doherty, who set up Andy Moran to fire to the net from close-range. That gave Mayo a 1-9 to 1-7 lead, against the run of play, at the interval.
Tommy Freeman hit a point within half-a-minute of the restart, following good approach play by Darren Hughes, before Finlay brought Monaghan level via a 20-metre free after a foul on Hughes. Clerkin was inches away from edging his side in front, only for his shot to be ruled wide, before Campbell linked up with Varley to get Mayo’s first score of the half. 20-metre frees by McManus and Finlay, after fouls on McManus himself and Dessie Mone, handed Monaghan the narrowest of leads, but it was quickly wiped out by a fisted point from Moran, who had been well-placed by Parsons, who had earlier blazed a goal chance wide. Mayo took charge midway through the half when Doherty cut in along the end-line to crash home his seventh goal of the league campaign, but Monaghan responded with five points in succession. Finlay converted three frees after fouls on Clerkin, Freeman and substitute Stephen Gollogly and McManus added his third free, following a foul on Galligan. Freeman and McAdam combined to help Finlay swing over a well-taken point from play. A superb point from distance by Burke
brought Mayo back into it, but Darren Hughes took a pass from Clerkin and burst through for an inspirational score for Monaghan. The hosts went three clear when Finlay continued his unerring free-taking from 30 metres after Mone had been fouled and although Burke hit back with his third point, Monaghan held on for a confidence-boosting victory ahead of the June 5 Ulster SFC showdown with Tyrone.
Monaghan: M Keogh; K Duffy, Darren Hughes (0-1), M McNally; C Galligan, D Mone, C Walshe; O Lennon, N McAdam; D Clerkin, C McManus (Capt., 0-3f), M Downey; C McGuinness, P Finlay (0-11, 9f), T Freeman (1-3).
Subs: J Turley for Downey (H-T), S Gollogly for McGuinness (49 mins), D McArdle for McNally (58), D Morgan for Walshe (65), O Duffy for Clerkin (69).
Mayo: D Clarke; C Hallinan, A Feeney, K Higgins; P Gardiner, G Cafferkey, J Burke (0-3); S O’Shea, T Parsons; A Campbell (0-4, 2f), A Moran (Capt., 1-1), K McLoughlin (0-1); E Varley, A Freeman (0-1), J Doherty (1-3, 0-2f).
Subs: R O’Connor for Gardiner (inj., 37), R Rochford for Hallinan, A Kilcoyne for Campbell (42), B Moran for O’Shea (43), C O’Connor for Varley (inj., 51).
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).