Allianz FL D1: Monaghan see off Kildare
Allianz Football League Division 1
Monaghan 1-10 Kildare 0-12
By Colm Shalvey
Monaghan edged out Kildare in a tight contest in Newbridge to get their first points of the 2018 Allianz Football League.
Conor McCarthy made vital contributions with a first-half goal and the winning point from a free for a Monaghan side who saw Conor McManus come off the bench to help them over the line.
Monaghan were first off the mark through Darren Hughes and Dessie Ward, before Paul Cribbin got Kildare up and running in the tenth minute. The hosts missed a string of scoreable frees in the opening quarter, while Jack McCarron was on target at the other end.
The Ulster County missed a goal chance when Karl O'Connell was unable to connect with Conor McCarthy at the end of a surging run, before Ben McCormack, Kevin Feely and Cribbin edged Kildare ahead.
McCarron and Kieran Duffy responded for Monaghan, only for Cribbin (who was later one of three players to be black-carded) to level it up. Monaghan made a major breakthrough just short of the half-hour mark when McCarthy latched onto a pass from Ward to slot home the game's only goal. Ward tagged on an added-time point to move Monaghan four clear at 1-6 to 0-5.
Kildare made a blistering start to the second half as a Feely free and a brace from McCormack almost wiped out their deficit, although they passed up a chance to equalise when the former went short from a free and Monaghan retrieved possession.
A 50-metre free by Monaghan keeper Rory Beggan was cancelled out by Kildare substitute Niall Kelly, before a Feely free left the sides level heading into the final 20 minutes.
Frees by Niall Kearns and sub Conor McManus moved the visitors in front again, but when Paddy Brophy and Kelly hit back, it was level for a fifth time.
The remaining 12 minutes, including five of added time, produced just one score, with McCarthy curling over a free to see Monaghan leave with their first points of the campaign. Malachy O'Rourke's side host Kerry next Sunday, while Kildare take on Tyrone.
Scorers for Kildare: Kevin Feely 0-3f, Ben McCormack 0-3, Paul Cribbin 0-3, Niall Kelly 0-2, Paddy Brophy 0-1.
Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McCarthy 1-1 (0-1f), Jack McCarron 0-2 (1f), Dessie Ward 0-2, Conor McManus 0-1f, Kieran Duffy 0-1, Darren Hughes 0-1, Niall Kearns 0-1f, Rory Beggan 0-1f.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Peter Kelly, David Hyland, Mick O'Grady; Johnny Byrne, Eoin Doyle, Cian O'Donoghue; Kevin Feely, Luke Flynn; Fergal Conway, Chris Healy, Paul Cribbin; Ben McCormack, Daniel Flynn, Cathal McNally. Subs: David Slattery for Cribbin (black card, 35), Niall Kelly for McNally (HT), Mark Hyland for O'Grady (inj., 46), Paddy Brophy for McCormack (inj., 49), Éamonn Callaghan for Conway (black card, 54), Jimmy Hyland for Healy (65).
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan; Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle, Barry Kerr; Neil McAdam, Páraic McGuirk, Karl O'Connell; Darren Hughes, Niall Kearns; Dessie Ward, Dermot Malone, Fintan Kelly; Conor McCarthy, Jack McCarron, David Garland. Subs: Colin Walshe for McGuirk (17), James Wilson for Garland (HT), Dessie Mone for McAdam (39), Conor McManus for Malone (54), Darren Freeman for Wilson (61), Owen Duffy for McCarron (black card, 64).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).