Monaghan survive an All-Ireland qualifier scare in Carlow

Fintan Kelly palms home the clinching goal for Monaghan at Netwatch Park
Charlie Keegan at Netwatch Cullen Park

All-Ireland SFC Qualifying round 3B: Monaghan 1-12 Carlow 1-7


MONAGHAN got the fright of their football lives at Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday as a hugely motivated Carlow side brought the Farney county to the very limit in an absorbing round 3B qualifier which provided one of highlights of the 2017 summer Championship.

Watched by an attendance of 6,124 in perfect weather conditions, Monaghan struggled for an hour against their Division Four opponents – opponents fuelled by wonderful home support which provided them with a 16th man element.

With the game having swung to and fro, the experience of the men from Kavanagh country playing at the highest level eventually told and, in a dominant final 10 minutes, they put the game to bed, the crucial score being a 65th minute goal from right corner-back Fintan Kelly.

The visitors benefitted from the strength of their bench in the second half, the introduction of Conor McCarthy being particularly fruitful, while Ryan McAnespie chipped in with a point at a vital stage to put his side 0-10 to 1-6 ahead.

A relieved Monaghan team boss Malachy O'Rourke admitted after the game: “We have a lot to work on.”

The Derrylin native added: “We knew we would get nothing soft here, but the goal gave us the impetus at the right time.

We now have two weeks to prepare for whatever the draw throws at us.''

This game, though, was really about Carlow as Turlough O'Brien's men exceeded all expectations and put serious questions to the Ulster county.

In a frantic first half of only eight points, five to Monaghan, Carlow could so easily have gone in ahead had Seán Gannon's close range shot on the half-hour not gone the wrong side of the post after the Éire Óg clubman had combined brilliantly with Brendan Murphy in setting up the chance.

Monaghan were wasteful in attack in that opening half, kicking eight wides to which they added six after the change of ends. They were forced to shoot from long distance much of the time as Carlow defended in depth. While the Farney forward line had left their shooting boots at home, midfielder Kieran Hughes was very much on-form. He was on the ball more than any other Monaghan player and shot three fine, and crucial, points from play.

There were flashes of the brilliance from Conor McManus, the Clontibret clubman scored 0-3, 0-2 from frees but was overshadowed by the brilliant free-taking of Carlow's Paul Broderick, who hit 0-5 from frees, his first point of the second half from 55 metres close to the sideline being an inspirational score.

Darren Hughes was black-carded in first half injury-time, apparently for something he said to a linesman, and after a brace of Carlow points had levelled matters early in the second half, Shane Carey edged the visitors ahead with a point from play.

On 49 minutes, the venue erupted when Gary Kelly, Carlow's left half-back, availed of slack Monaghan defence in dealing with a 45-metre free, to crash home a great goal as Carlow led 1-5 to 0-6.

Monaghan substitute Cathal McCarthy pointed before the impeccable Broderick arrowed another Carlow free between the posts.

But as the pace of the game caught up with Turlough O'Brien's men, Monaghan began to monopolise possession and points from McCarthy, Rory Beggan (free) and substitute Ryan McAnespie put them in front. Then came Kelly's goal, made possbile by the forceful run of Conor McCarthy which pierced Carlow's left flank of defence. His fisted effort across the face of the goal was bundled to the net by the in-rushing Kelly.

Monaghan had made into Monday's draw, but it had been a close run affair.

Carlow manager Turlough O'Brien was bitterly disappointed that his side had not completed the job and created the biggest upset of the Championship.

The forthright Barrowside boss said: “We wanted to win the game – we don't want moral victories. Any team that prepares properly can compete, instead of throwing in the towel before the Championship begins.”

Monaghan: R Beggan (0-1, free); F Kelly (1-0), D Wylie, R Wylie; D Hughes, C Walshe, K O'Connell; K Hughes (0-3), N McAdam; G Doogan, D Malone (0-1), Shane Carey (0-1); O Duffy, J McCarron, C McManus (0-3, 0-2 frees). Subs: D Mone for D Hughes (black card )L (36); C McCarthy (0-2, 0-1 free) for McCarron (44); R McAnespie (0-1) for Duffy (52); V Corey for McAdam (57); D Ward for Carey (69); K Duffy for Doogan (73).

Carlow: R Molloy; C Lawlor, S Redmond, M Rennick; D Moran, D St Ledger, G Kelly (1-0); S Murphy, E Ruth; B Murphy (0-2), D Foley, S Gannon; P Broderick (0-5, frees), C Moran, J Murphy. Subs: S Clarke for Moran (62); K Nolan for Kelly (62).

Referee: C Reilly (Louth)



Kieran Hughes (Monaghan)

THE big Scotstown midfielder put in a great shift all through, giving Malachy O'Rourke’s side a pull in the middle of the park. And, on a day when the forward line misfired badly, he contributed three vital points from play, his first in the ninth minute being a beautifully taken score from long range.

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