All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final: Monaghan edge out Kildare
All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final (Phase 1)
MONAGHAN 0-15 KILDARE 1-10
By John Harrington at Croke Park
Monaghan gritted their teeth and got their All-Ireland Quarter-Final series off the perfect start with this hard-fought win over Kildare.
There was very little between the teams, and in the final reckoning the consistent ability of the Monaghan defence to turnover Kildare ball-carriers proved decisive.
The sight of a Kildare man running into trouble was a frequent one. Whereas Monaghan were that bit cuter in attack and their runners from deep, especially Karl O'Connell, where more potent than Kildare's.
Monaghan were the quicker team to settle, with sweetly struck points from Conor McManus and Niall Kearns helping them into an early 0-2 to 0-1 lead.
But then the Lilywhites came roaring into the game when Daniel Flynn reminded us once again why he’s such a class act.
Picking the ball up 40 yards from goal, he accelerated with frightening pace to first leave Ryan Wylie in his wake and then Darren Hughes clutching at thin air before he clipped an audacious finish over Rory Beggan and into the net via the underside of the cross-bar.
It was one of the scores of the season so far and you figured it would surely inspire Kildare to go from strength to strength, but instead it was Monaghan who began taking a more assured grip on the game.
Three points in a row for Conor McManus (2f) and the very lively Conor McCarthy cancelled out Flynn’s goal and pushed Monaghan 0-5 to 1-1 ahead.
Flynn nearly undid all their good work again when he tore through on goal once more for Kildare, but his fiercely driven shot was brilliantly parried over the bar by Beggan.
It was a fine save, but Flynn might have been better advised to go hard and low rather than try to make the roof of the net billow.
A fine Karl O’Connell point had Monaghan 0-7 to 1-2 ahead by the 21st minute, but from there to the half-time whistle there was little between the teams as they exchanged three points each.
Trailing by 0-10 to 1-5 at the break, Kildare opened the second-half scoring and reduced the deficit to the minimum when Fergal Conway landed a fine point.
Monaghan were becoming a little ragged now, hitting four wides in eight minutes before Neil Flynn then drew Kildare level with a classy left-footed point.
The intensity levels ratcheted up a couple of notches now, with an increasingly physical edge coming into a game that pinballed from end of the field to the other.
Monaghan created their first real goal chance of the match when livewire wing-back Karl O’Connell sliced through the centre of their defence and unloosed a thunderbolt of a shot.
Mark Donnellan could only parry it back into the path of O’Connell who had continued his run and fisted the rebound over the bar.
The lead didn’t last long. Kildare went straight down the field and levelled the match up again when wing-back Johnny Byrne charged forward for an inspirational point.
It was a real tit for tat battle now, and after Kieran Duffy got forward to edge Monaghan ahead once more, they were eventually pegged back again when Kevin Feely landed a free on 62 minutes to level the scores at 1-9 to 0-12.
But when one last push was required, it was Monaghan who had the strength and know-how to summon it.
Niall Kearns, who worked like a Trojan all afternoon, kicked a brilliant point on the run to edge them one ahead.
And then Conor McManus landed an even more audacious score from a ridiculously tight angle on the left to give Monaghan a two-point buffer on the score-board.
Kildare sub Eamonn Callaghan did manage to reduce the deficit to the minimum again, but Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan made the result safe for the Ulster side when he landed a long-range free with typical aplomb.
Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus 0-4 (2f), Karl O’Connell 0-3, Niall Kearns 0-2, Conor McCarthy 0-2, Rory Beggan 0-2 (’45, 1f), Kieran Duffy 0-1, Shane Carey 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: Daniel Flynn 1-1, Neil Flynn 0-4 (2f), Tommy Moolick 0-1, Johnny Byrne 0-1, Eamonn Callaghan 0-1, Fergal Conway 0-1 Kevin Feely 0-1 (f)
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan; Kieran Duffy, Drew Wylie, Ryan Wylie; Dessie Mone, Vinny Corey, Karl O’Connell; Niall Kearns, Darren Hughes; Fintan Kelly, Shane Carey, Owen Duffy; Conor McCarthy, Ryan McAnespie, Conor McManus. Subs: Paudie McKenna for Owen Duffy, black card, (28mins), Jack McCarron for Fintan Kelly (47), Kieran Hughes for Paudie McKenna (60), Dermot Malone for Shane Carey (66)
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Peter Kelly, David Hyland, Mick O’Grady; Johnny Byrne, Eoin Doyle, Kevin Flynn; Kevin Feely, Tommy Moolick; Fergal Conway, Paul Cribbin, Keith Cribbin; Neil Flynn, Daniel Flynn, Paddy Brophy. Subs: Niall Kelly for Paul Cribbin (45), Chris Healy for Paddy Brophy (50), David Slattery for Keith Cribbin (58), Eamonn Callaghan for Tommy Moolick (69), Cathal McNally for Neil Flynn (71)
Ref: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)