All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier Round One
Offaly 1-18 Monaghan 1-10 26/6/11
Monaghan’s All-Ireland SFC campaign ended with a very disappointing defeat away to Offaly on Saturday. A large Monaghan contingent travelled to Tullamore for the first-round qualifier, easily outnumbering the home support, but a combination of a much-improved performance by Offaly and a poor display by Eamon McEneaney’s side led to a shock result. It took Monaghan 20 minutes to get their first score from play, by which stage they trailed by 1-5 to 0-1, but they rallied to hit 1-5 in a ten-minute burst to draw level, with Christopher McGuinness marking his first SFC start with a goal.
They couldn’t keep it going, however, as Offaly went on to outscore them by 12 points to four from the half-hour mark on. Niall McNamee was the star of the show for Offaly, scoring 1-3 from play, while Richie Dalton, Ciarán McManus, Niall Darby and Joe Quinn were also to the fore. Neil McAdam, Owen Duffy, McGuinness and Donal Morgan were among few Monaghan players to play to their potential.
Offaly were first off the mark with a point from play by Ken Casey, before Niall McNamee and Paul Finlay swapped points from 20-metre frees, after fouls on Ciarán McManus and Bernard O’Brien. Monaghan wasted a few chances to equalise and they were punished as Offaly hit 1-3 without reply. Casey created a point for Richie Dalton and Offaly quickly struck for the first goal when they turned the ball over in Monaghan’s half for Dalton to set McNamee through for a cracking finish to the top corner of the net. Ciarán McManus kicked a point from play and Bernard Allen added a point after a long free by Ross Brady.
Conor McManus finally got Monaghan’s first point from play on 20 minutes after Owen Lennon had won a high free by Neil McAdam and it kick-started a brief Monaghan rally. Finlay curled over a free from a difficult angle after a foul on McManus, Owen Duffy kicked a point from play and Christopher McGuinness slotted home a goal on 26 minutes after a good pass from O’Brien. Dalton responded with a point for Offaly after Monaghan had once again lost possession cheaply, but Owen Duffy linked up with O’Brien to get his second point in quick succession and Monaghan drew level when McAdam got on the end of a pass from Duffy to kick a point via the upright. Stephen Lonergan restored Offaly’s advantage, however, and Ciarán McManus doubled their lead following a pass from Ross Brady. Offaly led by 1-8 to 1-6 at half-time.
McNamee finished a swift Offaly attack with the first point of the second half, before Ciarán McManus converted a brace of frees – the first from 40 metres after Darren Hughes had touched the ball on the ground and the second from 13 metres after a foul on McNamee. Dalton and Niall Darby made it five without reply for the hosts and although Conor McManus opened Monaghan’s second-half account from a 20-metre free after a foul on Owen Duffy, McNamee took his tally to 1-3 after a Ciarán McManus free had hit the upright. O’Brien and substitute Ciarán Hanratty gave Monaghan some hope with a point each, but Offaly hit back with the next four points.
Ross Brady converted a free for a foul on Karol Slattery, Lonergan and sub David Egan both got off the mark and McNamee fisted over for his final score of an impressive performance. Monaghan got the last score through a fine point from McAdam, but Offaly had the game wrapped up long before the full-time whistle. Monaghan are now out of the championship in the first round for the first time in seven years and they will have to wait until next January for their next game.
Offaly: A Mulhall; B Darby, J Quinn, S Pender; N Darby (0-1), S Brady, S Lonergan (0-2); R Dalton (0-3), N Smith; R Brady (0-1f), C McManus (0-4, 2f), K Slattery; B Allen (0-1), K Casey (0-1), N McNamee (Capt., 1-4, 0-1f).
Subs: P Bracken for Casey (50 mins), D Egan (0-1) for Allen, S Ryan for Slattery (both 62), N Spain for N Darby (inj., 71).
Monaghan: M Keogh; K Duffy, D Morgan, C Galligan; O Duffy (0-2), N McAdam (0-2), Darren Hughes; O Lennon, D Clerkin (Capt.); D McKenna, B O’Brien (0-1), M Downey; C McGuinness (1-0), P Finlay (0-2f), C McManus (0-2, 1f).
Subs: C Hughes for Clerkin (H-T), C Hanratty (0-1) for McKenna (52), B McKenna for McGuinness, V Corey for Downey (63).
Referee: S Doyle (Wexford).