Patrick McBrearty and Drew Wylie in action at Castleblayney.

Patrick McBrearty and Drew Wylie in action at Castleblayney.

Allianz FL D1: Last gasp Monaghan avoid relegation


Monaghan 1-10 Donegal 1-9

By Colm Shalvey at Castleblayney

Monaghan secured their Allianz Football League Division I status in the most dramatic circumstances with this one-point win over Donegal in Castleblayney on Sunday. Monaghan fell seven points down after a Martin McElhinney goal capped a confident start by Donegal, but the hosts worked their way back into it and they conceded just two points in the second half to halt their four-game losing streak.

Colin Walshe’s late winner, coupled with Cork’s loss to Kerry, saw Monaghan stay up on score difference.

In a fairly scrappy start, it was Donegal who settled better with unanswered points from Michael Murphy (free) and Eoin and Ryan McHugh in the opening 15 minutes.

The game came to life at the start of the second quarter, as Paddy McBrearty converted a free for Donegal, who moved seven points clear through Martin McElhinney’s 20th-minute goal.

That seemed to finally spring Monaghan to life, with the hosts hitting back almost immediately when Daniel McKenna found the net. Odhrán Mac Niallais replied for Donegal, but a McKenna point kept Monaghan in touch.

A Murphy free restored the five-point gap, before Darren Hughes had a shot at goal tipped over the bar by Mark Anthony McGinley. Conor McManus burst to life with a quick brace (one from a free) to bring Monaghan closer, although a McBrearty score sent Donegal in at half-time with a 1-7 to 1-4 lead.

McManus converted a free at the start of the second half and even though Murphy landed a ’45 in a low-scoring ten-minute spell, the Monaghan captain found his range from another placed ball. Anthony Thompson restored Donegal’s three-point advantage, but they didn’t score in the remaining 23 minutes (including the six of added time).

Points by Ryan McAnespie and McManus (free) boosted the Monaghan comeback and some excellent defending kept Donegal out at the other end. Another McManus free brought Monaghan level going into the last five minutes and even after they missed a couple of chances to edge ahead, Colin Walshe got forward to kick what proved to be the winner in the third added minute.

Donegal, who lost Neil McGee and Hugh McFadden to black cards late on, still edge into the semi-finals, where they will play Dublin.

Scorers for Monaghan: C McManus 0-6 (5f), D McKenna 1-1, C Walshe 0-1, D Hughes 0-1, R McAnespie 0-1

Scorers for Donegal: M Murphy 0-4 (3f, 1 ’45), M McElhinney 1-0, P McBrearty 0-2 (1f), E McHugh 0-1, O Mac Niallais 0-1, A Thompson 0-1

Monaghan: R Beggan; R Wylie, C Walshe, D Wylie; D Mone, N McAdam, F Kelly; V Corey, N McAdam; K Hughes, D Malone, R McAnespie; D Hughes, D McKenna, C McManus (Capt.).

Subs: T Kerr for Mone (47), O Duffy for Malone (53), C McCarthy for McKenna (59).

Donegal: M McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, A Thompson; R McHugh, F McGlynn, H McFadden; R Kavanagh, M Murphy (Capt..); O Mac Niallais, L McLoone, E McHugh; M McElhinney, P McBrearty, M O’Reilly.

Subs: C McFadden for E McHugh (inj., 53), É McGee for O’Reilly (59), C Toye for McLoone (64), S McBrearty for McElhinney (66), É Doherty for N McGee (black card, 69), M McHugh for H McFadden (black card, 73).

Referee: R Hickey (Clare).