Conor McManus turns Monaghan certain defeat into the sweetest of draws against Donegal
Allianz Football League Division One: Donegal 1-11 Monaghan 1-11
Ice-cool Conor McManus turned Monaghan defeat into the sweetest of draws, with a cleverly converted penalty against wasteful Donegal, in an exciting but scrappy affair before 7,000 in sunny Father Tierney Park, Ballyshannon.
Referee David Gough had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and giving Tir Chonaill substitute Martin McElhinney a black card after Darren Hughes went down in the square in the 69th minute.
McManus had been very quiet previously, but showed great composure in finishing a very crucial penalty for the feisty Farney lads.
Monaghan will be mightily relieved but Donegal will not be happy with a shocking 18 wides, at least 11 were from good scoring chances.
Monaghan were fairly wasteful too, hitting 11 wides, as both sides snapped at the posts.
Once again, that Monaghan steely swagger proved a bit too much for Tir Chonaill’s emerging young stars, on the edge of the Atlantic, as they showed huge mental resolve, especially in those final frenetic moments.
Happy Monaghan team boss Malachy O’Rourke said he was relieved to get the draw at the death.
“It was a relief but I felt the boys just kept plugging away even when we felt the game was slipping away from us," he said.
“We missed a few chances but we created a goal chance and in fairness to Conor he stepped up and put the penalty away very emphatically.
“At the end of the day I was just delighted to get the point out of it.
“The breeze was a bit tricky and we had a battle to get something from the game but in the end we did."
Donegal was, by far the better side in the second half as two lightning points in the space of 50 seconds from Michael Murphy and Ciaran Thompson put them ahead by 1-7 to 0-7 after trailing by 1-5 to 0-9 at the interval.
It took Monaghan a full 22 minutes to score in the second half from Shane Carey as Donegal dominated possession but hit some bad wides.
They threw on Kieran Gillespie for an off colour Neil McGee and Paddy McBrearty also came off he bench and hit two points as Rory Gallagher’s men looked to have closed out matters, despite the many wides.
Disappointed Donegal team manager Rory Gallagher said it was a frustrating end to the match.
But he had no qualms about the late crucial penalty.
“When you are in a position to win the game and you don’t win it, it is very disappointing," he said.
“A draw is some consolation but overall I don’t think our performance was that great even though we were in a position to win the game at the end.
“It was great to see Micheal Carroll getting the goal but we did not kick on and it was the same in second half.
“We had a huge amount of possession and had the elements but we were not clinical or ruthless enough and that is something that we need to learn from.
Monaghan were slightly the more economical side in the opening half and deservedly led by 0-9 to 1-5 at the interval.
In the past Conor McManus, was their sole saviour, but, in the first half McCarron’s sweet left foot made Donegal, yet again, sup sorrow from a rusty Farney spoon.
But he was helped by Donegal fullback Neil McGee committing three needless fouls on the Monaghan star who made full use of those opportunities.
McCarron was quick off the mark after just a minute when he McGee fouled him off the ball.
The youngster then added a sumptuous effort from the sideline to put his side ahead by 0-2 to 0-0 after just three minutes.
Donegal looked jittery but they got a real boost when Ryan McHugh and Eoghan Ban Gallagher set up the inrushing Michael Carroll who cooly picked his spot past the diving Rory Beggan.
Carroll’s clinical finish changed the dynamic of a hard fought error ridden encounter as Murphy made it 1-1 to 0-2 lead before the inevitable McCarron levelled matters after he was again fouled by an uncomfortable looking McGee.
The match was held up for about five minutes due to an injury to Monaghan’s Ryan McAnespie.
Then Kieran Hughes burst through for a fine point from play.
They had a chance of a goal in the 30th minute when Cian Mulligan put Ryan McHugh through on goal and was tripped by Shane Carey, who was lucky to escape with a yellow card.
The final quarter was played at a frenetic pace with both sides missing relatively easy chances, especially Donegal’s Michael Murphy who missed three relatively easy frees.
McCarron then hit a superb effort from the sideline to ease Monaghan ahead by a point as they led by 1-5 to 0-9 at the interval.
But this was a second half that Donegal will want to forget as they travel to Mayo next week.
Donegal: M A McGinley, P McGrath, N McGee, E Doherty; M O’Reilly, E Ban Gallagher, P Brennan; M Murphy (0-75f), C Thompson (0-1); C Mulligan , E McHugh (0-1), R McHugh; J Brennan, H McFadden, M Carroll (1-0)
Subs: M McHugh for P Brennan (32), K Gillespie for N McGee (h-time), P McBrearty (0-2) for J Brennan (40), K Lacey for C Mulligan (50), M McElhinney for R McHugh (60 inj), M Langan for C Thompson (66)
Black cards; M McElhinney (70)
Yellow cards; C Mulligan (15) N McGee (30), M Langan (68)
Monaghan: R Beggan, F Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie; R McAnespie, N Mc Adam, K O’Connell; D Hughes (0-1), K Hughes; D Ward (0-1), O Duffy (0-1), G Doogan; M Bannigan (0-1), J McCarron (0-54f), C McManus (1-1f, pen)
Subs: S Carey (0-1), for R McAnespie (8-inj) C McCarthy for D Ward (b-card), D Malone for M Bannigan (h-time), V Corey for N McAdam (46)
J Mealiff for O Duffy (b-card 52), T Kerr for G Doogan (67)
Black cards: D Ward (32) O Duffy (52)
Yellow cards; N McAdam (16), S Carey (26),, T Kerr (72),
D Gough (Meath)
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