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Ulster MFL: Monaghan through to semis despite first defeat against Cavan

April 7th, 2012

Ulster Minor Football League Group A

Monaghan 0-9 Cavan 0-12                           7/4/12                         


Monaghan fell to their first defeat of the Ulster MFL when Cavan finished strongly in Clones to squeeze their way into second place in Group A. Monaghan had already booked their place in the semi-finals and Cavan showed greater hunger on the day to ensure that they edged out Armagh on score-difference. Colin McAree’s side had a purple patch either side of the half-time interval which saw them wipe out a five-point deficit, but they were never able to get their noses in front and Cavan hit the last three points.

A couple of square-ball decisions went against Monaghan – the first when Conor McCarthy had a point controversially ruled out and the second when Senan Gilcreest got an important late score for Cavan after fellow substitute Conor Madden appeared to have been in the square before the ball – but the Breffni side were the better team overall. Andy Graham, Ben Kiernan, Gerard Smith and Fergal Reilly led the way for Cavan, while Ryan Wylie, Pádraic Keenan (until his late dismissal), Conor McCarthy and Barry Hanratty were best for Monaghan, who made three changes from the win in Armagh.

Monaghan took an early lead through Mark Magee, but Liam Buchanan got Cavan off the mark on five minutes and Andy Graham edged them ahead from a 20-metre free after a foul on Jonathan McCabe. Graham added a point from play after a good pass by Gerard Smith and although Pádraic Keenan converted a 40-metre free for a foul on Conor McCarthy to keep Monaghan in touch, Barry Kiernan landed a good point for the visitors, who went three clear when Graham tapped over another close-range free, following a foul on McCabe.

McCarthy got a fine point back for Monaghan at the end of a surging run and Monaghan went within inches of taking the lead when Ryan McAnespie released Adam Treanor, who was denied a third goal in three games by a combination of Cavan goalkeeper Chris Magee and a couple of his defenders who managed to scramble the ball away.

Kiernan curled over a free from a tight angle after a foul on Graham, who quickly tagged on his fourth point, before Aaron Brown linked up with Michael Argue to open up a five-point gap. Monaghan finished the half strongly, though, with a well-taken point by Fergal McGeough, who was then fouled for a 20-metre free which McCarthy sent over to cut their deficit to three at half-time: Cavan 0-8 Monaghan 0-5.

Within two minutes of the restart, Monaghan had the gap down to a point as McCarthy and Keenan converted close-range frees for fouls on Donnacha Dolan and Treanor. Cavan substitute Conor Madden and Keenan swapped points from 30-metre frees after fouls on Brown and Dolan respectively, before McGeough brought Monaghan level. After 14 scoreless minutes, the sides were still deadlocked going into the last five minutes, but Madden tapped over a softly-awarded free and Monaghan were reduced to 14 men for the dying minutes when Keenan was shown a second yellow card for a heavy challenge on Greg McGovern.

Senan Gilcreest fisted over to double Cavan’s lead and Graham kicked the insurance score in injury-time after good work by Smith and Madden. Cavan now join Monaghan and Group B table-toppers Tyrone in the semi-finals, while Derry are in pole position to take the last place, although Donegal and Fermanagh can still catch them in the last round in Group B. The semis are set for Saturday, April 21.


Monaghan: C Finnegan; J Rehill, M Magee (0-1), A Kieran; P Keenan (0-3f), B Hanratty, R Wylie; J McElroy, S Buckley; K Rudden, F McGeough (0-2), R McAnespie; C McCarthy (0-3, 2f), D Dolan, A Treanor.

Subs: D McElroy for Rudden (22 mins), M Galligan for J McElroy (H-T).


Cavan: C Magee; F Reilly, P Faulkner, B Fortune; G Smith, C Clerkin, A Watson; G McGovern, L Buchanan (0-1); B Kiernan (0-2, 1f), M Argue, A Brown (0-1); J McCabe, T Hayes, A Graham (0-5, 2f).

Subs: C Madden (0-2f) for Buchanan (28), N Clerkin for Brown (36), S Gilcreest (0-1) for McCabe (54), K Monaghan for Hayes (56).

Temporary sub: P Sexton for Graham (28-HT).


Referee: I Molloy (Donegal).


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