Scotstown top of the pile in Monaghan after seeing off Harps
Greenfield Foods Monaghan Senior Football Championship final: Scotstown 2-12 Monaghan Harps 0-9
THERE was to be no fairytale ending to Monaghan Harps’ efforts to bridge the 92-year gap since they last won the Monaghan Senior Football Championship as a more composed and experienced Scotstown regained the title that they last held in 2013.
Ultimately, Scotstown possessed too much power and versatility and were able to contain the Harps threat, although had they capitalised on a few good chances – 12 in particular for goals at vital times – the course of this game could have been different.
Played in ideal conditions this was a game where Monaghan Harps, who were appearing in their first final in 24 years, started well and took the lead with the opening point from Shane Smyth in the sixth minute but ultimately it was flattery to deceive.
It was a lead that only lasted a minute as Scotstown struck for the first of their two first half goals when Orin Heaphey toe-poked into the Harps net in a goalmouth scramble to give Scotstown a lead they never subsequently relinquished.
A second goal by Conor McCarthy, who fielded brilliantly and crashed home on the turn in the 15th minute, put the Blues ahead by six points at the end of the opening quarter and in a strong position even at that early stage.
“Those goals were vital scores,” the Scotstown manager Mattie McGleenan admitted afterwards in that “they came at a good time and gave us a foothold in the game”, while Monaghan Harps manager Cathal McAnenly admitted that they were “body blows” from which his side never really recovered.
“We conceded two goals in the space of seven minutes in the first half and that was a blow to the confidence, even though we came here today knowing that we had prepared well,’’ he said.
‘‘When Scotstown got that advantage over us it was always going to be difficult to turn it around and the Monaghan Harps dressing room is not a very happy place this evening.”
The final 10 minutes of the first half saw the sides exchange points twice – Fergal McMahon and Donal Hahessy both from frees and Dermot McCrudden and Orin Heaphey for Scotstown – to leave six between them going into stoppage time at the end of the first half.
A minute into stoppage time Gary White was on hand when a long-range free by Neil McAdam broke in the Scotstown area, but his shot rose sharply for a point when a goal would have certainly opened things up.
Harps put in a lively start to the second half with points by Shane Smith and Gary White in the third and fourth minutes to reduce the margin to three before Darren Hughes restored Scotstown to a four-point lead after six minutes.
Rory Beggan then pulled off to a great double save to deny Fearghal McMahon before Scotstown pushed their lead to five points through Dermot McCrudden after seven minutes and then six at the end of the third quarter when Beggan converted a 45.
“That third quarter was vital for us,” the Scotstown manager admitted afterwards.
“Our situation at half-time was the same as last year and we knew what happened in the second half in 2014 and we were determined not to let that happen again”.
Going into the final quarter, any chance Harps had of turning it around was effectively killed off when Scotstown hit four points without reply between the 17th and 20th minutes through Darren Hughes, Conor McCarthy, Shane Carey (free) and Orin Heaphey to open a nine-point lead.
A quick free by Neil McAdam found the back of the Scotstown net but the referee called play back and McAdam had to settle for a point but that was to be their final score, with Rory Beggan then converting a long-range free four minutes from the end of normal time to wrap up a deserved victory for the Blues.
Monaghan Harps finished the game with 14 players when Neil McAdam was given a straight red card in the final minute but Scotstown also had only 14 on the field when Donal Morgan, who completed a great family double as his father Cormac (Morgan) captained Scotstown to the senior title back in 1979, picked up a black card but was not replaced.
Scotstown: R Beggan 0-2 (1f, ’45), D McArdle, E Caulfield, P Sherlock, M Duffy, D Morgan, O Heaphey 1-2, F Caulfield, J Turley, D Hughes 0-2, D McCrudden 0-2, C McCarthy 1-2, S Carey 0-1 (f), K Hughes 0-1, R McKenna;
Subs: P Keenan for M Duffy, B McGinnity for D McCrudden, D McCague for F Caulfield, F Caulfield for R McKenna, F McPhillips for O Heaphey, B Boylan for P Sherlock. Black Card: D Morgan (not replaced)
Monaghan Harps: A White, N Hahessy, D Hughes, N Scott, G Treanor, C Galligan, K Loughran, N McAdam 0-2 (1f), S Driver, G White 0-3, N Treanor, M Galligan, D Hahessy 0-1 (f), S Smyth 0-2, F McMahon 0-1 (f);
Subs: J Mulligan for C Galligan, L Hahessy for D Hahessy, A Og McAnespie for G Treanor, P Coyle for D Hughes
Black Cards: None; Red Card: N McAdam
Referee: N McKenna (Emyvale)