All-Ireland Minor Football Championship Semi-Final
Mayo 3-19 Monaghan 1-12 25/8/13
Monaghan’s minor footballers exited the All-Ireland MFC at the semi-final stage with a heavy defeat at the hands of an impressive Mayo at Croke Park on Sunday. Monaghan were never able to replicate their Ulster championship-winning form, as Mayo’s excellent forwards proved too much to handle. Michael Plunkett, Tommy Conroy and Conor Loftus found the net for Mayo, who also had fine performances from Michael Hall, Stephen Coen and Darragh Doherty. Conor McCarthy had a great game for Monaghan, scoring 1-4 from play, but only two other starting players scored from play.
Mayo got off to a flying start with points by half-backs Michael Hall and Stephen Coen, while David McAlister had a great goal chance for Monaghan when he latched on to a Fearghal McMahon flick, only to be denied by Mayo keeper Mark Mulligan. Conor Forde converted the resulting ’45 and McAlister tapped over a 20-metre free after an off-the-ball foul on McMahon, but Mayo regained the lead when Tommy Conroy blazed a half-chance of a goal over, following a pass by Conor Loftus. A foul on Conroy allowed Liam Irwin to open his account from a 20-metre free, before captain Coen doubled his tally and Michael Plunkett kicked a point after taking a pass from Cian Hanley. Conroy linked up with Darragh Doherty to send over his second, although McAlister replied with a well-struck 40-metre free after a foul on McMahon.
McAlister won and scored a 25-metre free to bring Monaghan within three and they drew level on 22 minutes when McCarthy got on the end of a long ball from Ryan McAnespie to cut through for a superb goal. Mayo’s response was almost immediate, however, as Forde failed to hold onto a high ball, which broke for Loftus to find the net. Mayo substitute Pádraig Prendergast made a quick impact by winning a 20-metre free for Irwin to convert and Loftus then opened up a five-point gap, before McCarthy linked up with McMahon to kick a fine score. McMahon cut Monaghan’s deficit to three when he converted a 30-metre free for a foul on sub Dónal Meegan, but a good point by Doherty had Mayo ahead by 1-10 to 1-6 at half-time.
Doherty added a brace of well-taken scores after the restart and although McCarthy responded with one of his own, disaster struck for Monaghan when a point-attempt by Prendergast deceived Forde, allowing Plunkett to tap into an empty net. Irwin added a point from play, but Ryan McAnespie replied for Monaghan, who almost had a lifeline when Dessie Ward played a one-two with McMahon, only to again find Mulligan in inspired form in the Mayo goal. Points by Doherty, Prendergast and Plunkett stretched Mayo’s lead, although McCarthy hit back with a brace, the latter of which could easily have been a second goal for the Scotstown star.
Hall linked up with half-back colleague Coen to hit his second point, before Conroy fired a cracking shot home for Mayo’s third goal. McMahon got a point back for Monaghan, who were again unlucky not to find the net when a Kevin Loughran rasper hit the woodwork, with sub Adam Treanor pointing the rebound. McAlister had a couple of attempts at goal from frees blocked in the closing minutes, while at the other end, Mayo sub Conor Byrne became his team’s ninth scorer. It was a day to forget for Monaghan, but a year to remember after they ended long waits for Ulster MFC and MFL titles.
Mayo: M Mulligan; E Doran, S Cunniffe, D Kenny; M Hall (0-2), S Coen (Capt., 0-2), S Conlon; V Roughneen, D O’Connor; C Loftus (1-1), M Plunkett (1-2), C Hanley; D Doherty (0-4), L Irwin (0-3, 2f), T Conroy (1-2).
Subs: P Prendergast (0-2) for Hanley (inj., 26 mins), C Byrne (0-1) for Doherty (49), R Finn for Doran (inj., 53), J Langan for Plunkett (57), F Duffy for Irwin (59).
Monaghan: C Forde; S Treanor, K Loughran (Capt.), P McArdle; A Kieran, R McAnespie (0-1), M Brown; M Murnaghan, M Magee; D Ward, A Curran, M O’Dowd; C McCarthy (1-4), D McAlister (0-3f), F McMahon (0-2, 1f).
Subs: D Meegan for Brown (inj., 21), N Loughman for Kieran (30 + 4), B McGinn for O’Dowd (H-T), C Martin for McArdle (38), A Treanor (0-1) for S Treanor (46).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).