Monaghan got their Super 8’s round robin series off to a good start with a 0-15 to 1-10 win over Kildare at Croke Park on Sunday.
The game was much like the weather a dreary affair. However, that will not bother Malachy O’Rourke as he will be delighted to get a win and two points. Monaghan will go into the game with Kerry next weekend in Clones in high spirits now where they will know a win will almost certainly secure a last four spot. On the other hand Kildare will need a big performance and a win against Galway to keep their dreams and hopes of reaching the last four alive.
Malachy O’Rourke’s charges were full value for their 0-10 to 1-05 lead at the break. Daniel Flynn grabbed the opening goal of the game inside 5 minutes, McManus and Kearns however did get Monaghan’s first scores either side of a free from Neill Flynn. Monaghan did however got in front on the minute mark, courtesy of two frees from McManus and McCarthy who scored from play. Rory Beggan was on hand to divert a Daniel Flynn shot over the bar, Beggan was then scoring at the other from a 45 to restore the Monaghan lead. It was 0-06 to 1-01 in favour of the Farney men. Karl O’Connell scored a sublime point from the right wing off the outside of the boot. Tommy Moolick registered a nice score on 22 minutes from 40 metres, but Shane Carey responded for Monaghan. Monaghan lead 0-08 to 1-03 with 25 minutes played. McCarthy registered a fine score three minutes later, before Neill Flynn kicked over his second pointed free. Karl O’Connell split the posts again for Monaghan, and the gap was now three,but a brilliant score from Neill Flynn closed the scoring for the opening half.
McManus and Flynn missed early second half frees. However, Fergal Conway kicked a nice point for the Lilywhites, to leave a point between the sides. Neill Flynn pointed and then Paudie McKenna seen a glorious chance gone amiss. Donnelly denied O’Connell with a superb save, but the wing back got back on the rebound and fisted over the bar. That was Monaghan’s first score in the second half with just 21 minutes left on the clock. Johnny Byrne had Cian O’Neill’s men level and the game was getting nervy with both sides making some mistakes. However, Kieran Duffy restored calmness when he registered a point on 56 minutes for the Farney men. Kevin Feely had the side back on level terms with a free, however Kearns who had a superb game restored the lead for Monaghan. Flynn then had a free but that was sent wide of the target, while Tommy Moolick seen his shot his the post, Kildare’s luck appeared to be running out on that evidence anyway.
Kearns was superb in defence in the final few minutes of the game denying Kildare and McManus tagged on the insurance point with 70 minutes on the clock. Eamonn Callaghan a second half substitute kicked over a point for Kildare in injury time. Rory Beggan was then given the task of a landing a long range free and he duly obliged with four minutes of injury time played.
Monaghan – R Beggan (0-2, 1f, 1’45); R Wylie, D Wylie, K Duffy (0-1); F Kelly, V Corey (0-1), D Mone; N Kearns (0-1), D Hughes; R McAnespie, S Carey (0-1), K O’Connell (0-3); C McCarthy (0-2), C McManus (0-4, 1f), O Duffy. Subs: P McKenna for O Duffy (BC), J McCarron for F Kelly, K Hughes for P McKenna, D Malone for S Carey.
Kildare – M Donnellan; M O’Grady, D Hyland, P Kelly; J Byrne (0-1), E Doyle, K Flynn; K Feely (0-1f), T Moolick (0-1); F Conway (0-1), P Cribbin, K Cribbin; P Brophy, D Flynn (1-1), N Flynn (0-4, 2f). Subs: N Kelly for P Cribbin, C Healy for P Brophy, D Slattery for K Cribbin, E Callaghan (0-1) for T Moolick, C McNally for N Flynn.