Allianz FL D1: Spoils shared in Clones
Allianz Football League Division One
MONAGHAN 2-14 MEATH 1-17
By Colm Shalvey at St Tiernach's Park, Clones
Monaghan secured a seventh straight year in the top flight of the Allianz National Football League after a nervy finish saw them pegged back by Meath for a draw in Clones.
Monaghan led almost from start to finish as they chased the result they needed to confirm their place in Division One. A late rally from Meath, who had briefly moved ahead after a strong start to the second half only to fall adrift after a string of scores by the superb Conor McManus, saw them finally turn a series of near-misses into a result, with a late equaliser from Jordan Morris securing their only point of the league campaign.
Monaghan started brightly with points from Conor McCarthy and Conor McManus and although Cillian O’Sullivan got Meath off the mark, a Rory Beggan free kept the hosts on the front foot. Monaghan created a couple of goal chances in the opening quarter and Mícheál Bannigan made one count to open up a five-point gap before Conor McManus added his second point.
Thomas O’Reilly, Ronan Jones, Shane Walsh and Jason Scully were all on target as Meath found their flow towards the end of the first half and although McCarthy, McManus and Fintan Kelly kept Monaghan ahead, the visitors closed to within two at half-time: 1-7 to 0-8.
Meath added a brace of points from sub Jordan Morris after the restart, before Bryan Menton palmed to the net at the end of a good move to edge his side ahead. Meath should have added a second goal moments later when Walsh flicked a Morris pass wide from close range. Monaghan had gone almost 15 minutes without scoring when a McManus brace settled them and levelled it up heading into the final quarter, which began with Morris and McManus twice exchanging points.
A point from sub Dermot Malone and a brilliant goal by McManus looked set to guide Monaghan over the line, but O’Reilly, Morris and Joey Wallace kept Meath in contention. A fine score from Kieran Duffy and a McManus free that took his tally to 1-8 should have been enough for Monaghan, but after they were reduced to 14 men through a Ryan Wylie black card, impressive sub Morris added a hat-trick of points to his total during added time (one of which could have been a goal).
Meath will take heart from their spirited comeback ahead of next month’s Leinster SFC, while Monaghan have just six days to prepare for their Ulster opener against neighbours Cavan.
Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus 1-8 (3fs), Mícheál Bannigan 1-0, Conor McCarthy 0-2 (1f), Rory Beggan 0-1 (f(, Kieran Duffy 0-1, Dermot Malone 0-1, Fintan Kelly 0-1.
Scorers for Meath: Jordan Morris 0-7 (3fs, 1m), Thomas O’Reilly 0-4 (3fs), Bryan Menton 1-0, Ronan Jones 0-2, Cillian O’Sullivan 0-1, Shane Walsh 0-1, Jason Scully 0-1, Joey Wallace 0-1.
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan; Fintan Kelly, Conor Boyle, Dessie Ward; Karl O’Connell, Ryan Wylie (Capt.), Kieran Duffy; Darren Hughes, Andrew Woods; Ryan McAnespie, Mícheál Bannigan, Stephen O’Hanlon; David Garland, Conor McCarthy, Conor McManus.
Subs: Killian Lavelle for Woods (H-T), Christopher McGuinness for Garland (40), Dermot Malone for Bannigan, Shane Carey for O’Hanlon (both 46), Kieran Hughes for McCarthy (55)
Temporary sub: Killian Lavelle for Hughes (23-H-T)
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Conor McGill, David Toner, Séamus Lavin; Shane McEntee, Cathal Hickey, Dónal Keogan; Bryan Menton (Capt.), Ronan Jones; Jason Scully, Bryan McMahon, Ronan Ryan; Cillian O’Sullivan, Shane Walsh, Thomas O’Reilly.
Subs: Jordan Morris for O’Sullivan (inj., 23), Matthew Costello for Scully (H-T), Joey Wallace for McMahon (50). Eoin Harkin for Toner (53|), Jack O’Connor for Hickey (62), Ethan Devine for Walsh (66).
REFEREE: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).