Ryan McAnespie, Monaghan, and Pearse Lillis, Clare, in All-Ireland SFC action. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Ryan McAnespie, Monaghan, and Pearse Lillis, Clare, in All-Ireland SFC action. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

All-Ireland SFC: Monaghan earn important win

All-Ireland SFC Group Four

Monaghan 1-23 Clare 1-18

By Colm Shalvey at St Tiernach's Park

Monaghan have three points from two games in the All-Ireland SFC Group Four after they won a shoot-out against Clare in sweltering conditions in Clones.

Restored to the starting line-up, Jack McCarron gave an exhibition of point-scoring as he racked up 0-9 (just one from a free) to help Monaghan shake off the stubborn resistance of a Clare side who had led for much of the first half.

A Darragh Bohannon goal had the visitors a point up ten minutes into the second half, but Monaghan rallied and they eventually sealed the win when Conor McCarthy rattled the net in some style late on. Monaghan had 10 players on the scoresheet as they hit 1-19 from open play.

A high-octane start produced six points from six shots in as many minutes, with Clare getting four of those through Darragh Bohannon, Cathal O’Connor, Keelan Sexton and Mark McInerney, while Monaghan’s replies came via wing-backs Karl O’Connell and Conor McCarthy.

Clare continued their clinical finishing through Emmet McMahon, Sexton and Daniel Walsh as they built up a three-point lead, not registering their first wide until the 25th minute. Monaghan needed some fine scores from Jack McCarron to stay in touch, while Ryan O’Toole and Mícheál Bannigan were also on target for the hosts, who edged ahead for the first time when Karl Gallagher kicked their ninth point on the half-hour mark. McMahon and Sexton regained the lead for Clare, but a Rory Beggan ’45 sent Monaghan in on level terms at 0-10 apiece.

Another sublime score from McCarron got Monaghan up and running in the second half, while McCarthy chipped one over, as well as providing a couple of assists for carbon-copy efforts by Bannigan. Clare got a lifeline in the 45th minute, however, when Aaron Griffin’s close-range shot was saved by Beggan and Bohannon was the first to react to net the rebound.

The scores continued to flow at both ends, with an inspirational point on the break by Stephen O’Hanlon getting Monaghan a much-needed response, while McCarron and sub Conor McManus were also on the mark.

Clare refused to wilt, with points from Jamie Malone, O’Connor and McMahon keeping the game in the melting pot, but Monaghan finally put some daylight between the teams when a flowing length-of-the-pitch move ended with McCarthy rattling home a spectacular goal.

The visitors kept going, with O’Connor and McMahon adding to their tallies, but McCarron’s ninth of the game and Gary Mohan’s first left Monaghan with five to spare. Monaghan face Donegal in the last round of the group, while Clare meet Ulster champions Derry.

Scorers for Monaghan: Jack McCarron 0-9 (1fs), Conor McCarthy 1-2, Mícheál Bannigan 0-3 (1f), Karl O’Connell 0-2, Conor McManus 0-2 (1f), Rory Beggan 0-1 (’45), Stephen O’Hanlon 0-1, Karl Gallagher 0-1, Gary Mohan 0-1, Ryan O’Toole 0-1.

Scorers for Clare: Emmet McMahon 0-6 (5fs), Darragh Bohannon 1-1, Cathal O’Connor 0-4, Keelan Sexton 0-3 (1f), Jamie Malone 0-2, Mark McInerney 0-2 (1f), Daniel Walsh 0-1.

Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Ryan O’Toole, Kieran Duffy (Capt.), Ryan Wylie; Karl O’Connell, Conor Boyle, Conor McCarthy; Gary Mohan, Killian Lavelle; Shane Carey, Mícheál Bannigan, Ryan McAnespie; Stephen O’Hanlon, Karl Gallagher, Jack McCarron.

Subs: Darren Hughes for Wylie (41); Conor McManus for Carey (44); Kieran Hughes for Gallagher (64); Colm Lennon for Lavelle (70); Daragh McElearney for McAnespie (73).

Clare: Stephen Ryan; Cillian Brennan, Ronan Lanigan, Manus Doherty; Ciarán Russell, Pearse Lillis, Cillian Rouine; Cathal O’Connor, Darragh Bohannon; Daniel Walsh, Emmet McMahon, Jamie Malone; Mark McInerney, Keelan Sexton, Pádraic Collins.

Subs: Aaron Griffin for Collins (inj., 37); Alan Sweeney for Brennan (50); Darren O’Neill for Bohannon (55); Shane Griffin for McInerney (61); Brian McNamara for Walsh (70).

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh).