Allianz FL D1: Monaghan triumph in Ballybofey
Allianz Football League Division One
Monaghan 1-12 Donegal 0-10
By Chris McNulty at MacCumhaill Park
Andrew Woods’ goal propelled Monaghan to a first League win of 2022.
Woods’ 11th minute strike was the catalyst for a five-point win over Donegal, who suffered a first League defeat at MacCumhaill Park for 12 years.
Their proud sequence of unbeaten encounters ended in disappointing fashion as a largely listless Donegal - who only summonsed something upon the introduction of Michael Murphy - fell to a first defeat here in 22 League outings.
Aided by Murphy’s presence, they came back to within a goal, but Monaghan pulled away again in the closing stages.
Conor McManus kicked a pair of frees either end of a Conor McCarthy score as Monaghan made most of the early hay.
McCarthy scored a quick-fire hat-trick inside the opening 20 minutes on his last visit to Ballybofey last May.
Monaghan landed an early goal here, Woods netting in the 11th minute. McManus’s skyscraper dropped perilously from the sky and Woods climbed above Aaron Doherty, making his Donegal debut.
Woods emerged with the ball and lashed past Shaun Patton.
When Dessie Ward thumped over moments later, Monaghan led by six, 1-4 to 0-1, the sole Donegal reply coming from Patrick McBrearty’s ninth-minute free.
McBrearty added another in the 21st minute, but Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan stepped up to convert a free from the ’45.
An injury to Ciaran Thompson prompted the arrival of Michael Murphy to the stage.
While the Donegal captain arrowed over soon after his introduction, the afternoon might have been over had Patton not turned away a close-range effort by Shane Carey.
Conor Boyle and Ryan McAnespie combined, the latter’s knockdown presenting Carey with a chance, but Patton made the vital save.
Donegal’s heavy artillery of Murphy and Neil McGee began on the bench, with Jamie Brennan also making his return to the squad.
The absence of Niall O’Donnell, Michael Langan and Hugh McFadden had already left Donegal a little light in places before Oisin Gallen withdrew in the warm-up.
They certainly had work to do as they chased a 1-7 to 0-4 deficit when referee Sean Hurson blew for half-time.
Patton stretched to keep out a certain goal when Gary Mohan, having worked the chance with Dessie Ward, looked to lob in.
Donegal might have looked out of it at a time, but McBrearty got them motoring five minutes into the new half.
Doherty arched over a delicious effort and there was just a goal between them when Jason McGee converted a mark.
Donegal were right back in it and Beggan brilliantly thwarted Ethan O’Donnell when a goal would’ve brought Donegal level.
Instead, Monaghan had Woods’ goal as a buffer heading for the final ten minutes.
Patton saved superbly from Mohan after he took receipt of Colin Walshe’s sweeping pass in from the right, but with Fintan Kelly, Kieran Duffy and McManus on the mark, Monaghan earned a valuable win on the road.
Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus (4f, 1m) 0-4, Andrew Woods (1f) 1-1, Kieran Duffy 0-2, Rory Beggan (f), Michael Bannigan, Fintan Kelly, Dessie Ward, Conor McCarthy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Donegal: Patrick McBrearty (4f) 0-5, Michael Murphy (2f) 0-3, Jason McGee (m), Aaron Doherty 0-1 each.
Monaghan: Rory Began; Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle, Ryan Wylie; Ryan McAnespie, Killian Lavelle, Dessie Ward; Darren Hughes, Gary Mohan; Conor McCarthy, Micheál Bannigan, Shane Carey; Andrew Woods, Kieran Hughes, Conor McManus.
Subs: Niall Kearns for D.Hughes (61), Colin Walshe for Ward (61), Fintan Kelly for Lavelle (61, blood), Lavelle for K Hughes (67), Karl O’Connell for McAnespie (70), Seán Jones for Woods (70+3).
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Caolan Ward, Brendan McCole, Stephen McMenamin; Ryan McHugh, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Ódhrán McFadden-Ferry; Daire Ó Baoill, Jason McGee; Aaron Doherty, Peadar Mogan, Ciaran Thompson; Patrick McBrearty, Conor O’Donnell, Charles McGuinness.
Subs: Michael Murphy for Thompson (28), Ethan O’Donnell for McGuinness (half-time), Eunan Doherty for Ó Baoill (41), Jamie Brennan for McHugh (51), Paul Brennan for McFadden-Ferry (68).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).