Ulster Senior Football Championship First Round
Tyrone 1-13 Monaghan 1-11 5/6/11
Monaghan fell just short with a valiant effort against Tyrone in the Ulster SFC first round in terrible conditions at Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday. Monaghan played more than half the game with 14 men after Dick Clerkin was shown a second yellow card, but they took the game to the Ulster champions and can count themselves unlucky not to have taken anything from the game.
An inexperienced Monaghan team showed eight changes from last year’s Ulster final and managed to close the gap significantly from that ten-point defeat. Four players – Mark Keogh, Kieran Duffy, Conor Galligan and Daniel McKenna – made their championship debuts for Eamon McEneaney’s side, while James Turley, Christopher McGuinness, Dermot Malone and Bernard O’Brien also made debuts off the bench and Neil McAdam got his first SFC start. Monaghan were too reliant on frees, however, as they only managed three points from play.
Brian McGuigan, Stephen O’Neill, Conor Gormley and Seán Cavanagh led the way for Tyrone, while Darren Hughes was immense for Monaghan, who also had good performances from Conor McManus, Colin Walshe and Owen Lennon.
Monaghan started brightly and they took an early lead when Conor McManus converted a 20-metre free for a foul on Paul Finlay. Martin Penrose equalised from a 30-metre free after a foul on Brian McGuigan, but McManus got on the end of a Stephen Gollogly pass to send over a good point from play. Seán Cavanagh brought Tyrone level once again after a one-two with Stephen O’Neill, but Monaghan regained the lead when Finlay converted a 30-metre free for a foul on Mark Downey.
McManus slotted over a 40-metre free after Davy Harte had over-carried to double Monaghan’s advantage and Finlay went close to extending it further when he sent an opportunistic soccer-style shot just wide of Pascal McConnell’s goal. McGuigan fired a goal chance over the bar at the other end and he gave another warning of his danger when he broke through on 13 minutes, only to be dispossessed by a combination of Dessie Mone and Conor Galligan. McManus pointed another 20-metre free after he had been fouled off the ball, but Penrose replied from a 13-metre free after a foul on Mark Donnelly.
Tyrone found the net on 18 minutes when McGuigan crashed a left-footed shot past Mark Keogh after good approach play by Peter Harte and O’Neill. Harte booted over a ’45 to increase Tyrone’s lead and it looked bleak for Monaghan when they lost their captain Dick Clerkin, who was shown a second yellow card for a tackle on Cavanagh on the half-hour mark.
Cavanagh tapped over a 13-metre free and O’Neill linked up with Donnelly to make it 1-3 without reply for Tyrone. Monaghan did get a reprieve just before half-time when Darren Hughes burst through and was fouled right on the edge of the square, allowing McManus to tap over the resulting free, closing the gap to four points at half-time: Tyrone 1-7 Monaghan 0-6.
Finlay won and scored a 30-metre free to bring Monaghan to within a goal less than a minute after the restart, but Cavanagh replied from a 20-metre free after a foul on Donnelly. Donnelly won a penalty in the fifth minute of the half when he went down under a challenge from Galligan, but Penrose blazed the spot-kick high and wide. Peter Harte’s point from a 40-metre free was cancelled out by a 30-metre free from Finlay after a foul on McManus, but Cavanagh exchanged passed with O’Neill before tapping over with his left foot. Monaghan won a penalty of their own on 13 minutes when McManus was tripped by Ryan McMenamin and Darren Hughes made no mistake from the spot with a firmly-struck effort into the bottom corner. Stephen O’Neill curled over a great point from a tight angle with his right foot, but McManus kicked his sixth point of the game from a free to keep Monaghan in touch after Dermot Carlin had been adjudged to have touched the ball on the ground.
Owen Mulligan marked his introduction with a point after a trademark dummy, before O’Neill danced through the Monaghan defence to fist his third point. Hughes kicked a fine point and Finlay added a well-taken score to bring Monaghan back to within two, but they were unable to force the goal they needed to steal a late win. The game ended with untidy scenes after Dessie Mone was shown a straight red card for a high tackle on Philip Jordan. Tyrone continue their bid for a third successive Ulster title when they play either Donegal or Cavan in the semi-finals, while Monaghan head for the qualifiers on June 25.
Tyrone: P McConnell; C McCarron, C Gormley, M Swift; D Harte, R McMenamin, P Jordan; A Cassidy, S Cavanagh (0-4, 2f); B Dooher (Capt.), B McGuigan (1-1), P Harte (0-2, 1f, 1 ’45); M Penrose (0-2f), Stephen O’Neill (0-3), M Donnelly.
Subs: D Carlin for McCarron (16 mins), C Cavanagh for P Harte (43), Seán O’Neill for Carlin (51), O Mulligan (0-1) for Penrose (55), K Hughes for Cassidy (65).
Monaghan: M Keogh; C Galligan, K Duffy, C Walshe; Darren Hughes (1-1, 1-0 pen), D Mone, O Duffy; O Lennon, D Clerkin (Capt.); S Gollogly, D McKenna, N McAdam; M Downey, P Finlay (0-4, 3f), C McManus (0-6, 5f).
Subs: J Turley for Gollogly (inj., 25), C McGuinness for McKenna (H-T), D Morgan for Galligan (47), D Malone for Turley (55), B O’Brien for O Duffy (65).
Referee: C Reilly (Meath).