‘To see Darren Hughes go off like that is devastating’ - Vinny Corey thoughts with veteran on bad day for Monaghan

No excuses from Farney camp as Cavan rally for victory in Ulster Championship opener

Darren Hughes was stretchered off and taken to hospital with a serious injury. Pic Philip Walsh
Darren Hughes was stretchered off and taken to hospital with a serious injury. Pic Philip Walsh

EVEN the return of Rory Beggan – who looked destined for the man of the match award after 70 minutes – couldn’t save Monaghan from defeat in the Ulster Championship opener.

Beggan made a brilliant first half save and scored a 45, a free and then a point from play but Cavan’s fresher legs had the final say and injury-time goals from Gerry Smith and Paddy Lynch on top of an earlier strike by Padraig Faulker (the actual man of the match) meant the Breffnimen won this entertaining derby.

“I thought the boys were in a good enough place coming here today,” said disappointed Monaghan manager Vinny Corey.

“That’s why it’s a wee bit disappointing. I thought at times today the energy wasn’t there. I don’t know if it’s an extension of the League or not. I won’t be making any big excuses.

“I just thought today we were beaten by the better team. It’s as simple as that. Cavan played the same conditions, they were missing a few key men as well. They made better use of the ball and took their chances.”

Goals were the Achilles Heel for Monaghan throughout their ill-fated League campaign and three more in this Championship opener (albeit the last coming when the result was decided) was a luxury they couldn’t afford.

“Once Cavan pulled ahead in the second half I think we did very well to pull it back and went two points up again,” said Corey.

“But the second Cavan goal was the big score, that was the big goal for Cavan. We had gotten ourselves in a good position and it was a terrible goal to let in.

Monaghan manager Vinny Corey said Cavan's second goal was the turning point. Pic Philip Walsh
Monaghan manager Vinny Corey said Cavan's second goal was the turning point. Pic Philip Walsh

“When we look back on this one we can say this was one we invited. But look, fair play to Cavan. They took their chances. We missed a sitter in the first half, it was Kevin Loughran and maybe if he had have went round the keeper…

“We knew we would get chances in the second half, but look, you’d have to say that Cavan were the better team.”

Loughran’s chance was well saved by Gary O’Rourke but Michael Hamill did beat the Cavan goalkeeper after 67 minutes and Monaghan led by a point nine minutes later when Smith blasted past Beggan.

There was no way for them then and their Ulster Championship exit follows hard on the heels of relegation from Division One. The Farneymen now have six weeks’ to lick their wounds before the All-Ireland series begins.

“You would be hoping you would get a few bodies back (from injury),” said Corey who half-joked that he “might give myself a week off”.

“It’s probably a line in the sand for the first half of the year for us. You don’t want to go down the road of making a whole pile of excuses. In fairness to Cavan, they were missing a few players as well.

“We have time now to lick our wounds, to dust ourselves down and get a bit if breathing space ahead of the next stage of the Championship. We’ll give them a few days off anyway and sit down in the next day or two to plot out a path for the next few weeks. We’ll all take a wee bit of time away and then get ourselves ready for the All-Ireland Championship.”

Rory Beggan may or not be around for the Sam Maguire series (which begins on May18-19), it will depend on whether he gets a contract offer from the NFL. Meanwhile, fellow veteran Darren Hughes may not feature either after he was stretchered off with a suspected broken leg.

“He’s away to hospital,” said Corey.

“That’s the big loss out of it. This is Darren’s 18th season and to see him go off like that there is devastating.

“Whatever about the result, we just hope that whatever injury he has got, isn’t a bad one.”