Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke unhappy after defeat to Mayo

Kieran Duffy of Monaghan tussles with Diarmuid O’Connor of Mayo in Clones Picture by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Kieran Duffy of Monaghan tussles with Diarmuid O’Connor of Mayo in Clones Picture by Seb Daly/Sportsfile Kieran Duffy of Monaghan tussles with Diarmuid O’Connor of Mayo in Clones Picture by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Allianz Football League Division One: Monaghan 0-12 Mayo 0-13

NEW twists in a new campaign – but an old complaint from the losing manager, regarding refereeing consistency.

Monaghan have tended to win their recent League openers, Mayo to lose theirs, but Monaghan boss Malachy O’Rourke was especially unhappy to finish this tense tussle empty-handed.

The Derrylin man wasn’t as bothered about the late red cards to two of his players – corner-backs Ryan Wylie and Barry Kerr – as he was about differing decisions over perceived fouls.

The hosts didn’t get a free for what seemed a foul on Dermot Malone as they were pushing for what would admittedly have been an unlikely winner.

Instead, Mayo, with two extra men in the final few minutes of added time, worked a couple of opportunities and Patrick Durcan took the second of those for a stunning winning score from the right wing.

O’Rourke (below) was very aggrieved afterwards, saying: “It was a very cruel way [to lose], we’re very disappointed. We showed great resilience to come back level. Then we were attacking in the

full-forward line and I thought it was a clear push in the back – but he [referee David Gough] didn’t give it.

“Then he gave a free out down the field and they got a point with the wind to win the game. It was a very cruel way to lose it, I couldn’t understand. I thought everyone else could see it apart from the referee. I don’t know, it was a strange one to me.”

There was confusion too about Wylie’s straight red card in the 69th minute, although Kerr could have no complaints, as O’Rourke acknowledged:

“Barry’s was a second yellow, I didn’t really see it, but probably no arguments. I don’t know what happened with Ryan down at the other end so there’s no point in making comment ’til I know what happened.

“Look, there was contact made with one of our players’ face at one stage straight in front of the referee and he got a pat on the back for it. There’s a slight difference.”

It was such perceived inconsistency that irked O’Rourke, particularly after Monaghan had battled back from 12 points to nine down:

“I thought the character the boys showed was top-class and we kept coming back. It looked like the game was gone from us and the boys refused to die and we kept coming back.

“That’s what makes it so disappointing, that decision at the end. That’s what happens, sometimes the top teams get them and the other teams don’t. Disappointing, no doubt about it.”

Stephen Rochford acknowledged an element of fortune to his side’s victory but praised the efforts of his makeshift side:

“Yeah, lucky in some ways to get the win but our overall application was really good for a team that hasn’t done a lot and our prep hasn’t been what we wanted it to be, based on weather and all sorts of other little challenges.

“When we put ourselves three points up in the second half we could have controlled it a little bit better but that was just probably evidence of our rustiness.

“We were playing a little bit too much outside Monaghan’s ‘65’, especially being two men up, but bodies were tired and you were thinking, ‘God, will we make an error?’

“At that stage we had four or five guys on the pitch that just lacked the experience that the likes of Paddy [Durcan] has now or Cillian [O’Connor].

“When we dropped the ball into Rory Beggan’s hands you were probably wondering was that our chance gone. Again, great leadership from around the field [to get the winning score].”

Although Mayo included seven of the side that started last year’s All-Ireland final, Monaghan began better.

Their four League debutants – Kerr, midfielder Niall Kearns, Paraic McGuirk, and David Garland – all showed up well.

Monaghan were kicking long and accurately into their inside forwards, with the consequence that all three of them – Conor McCarthy, Garland, then Jack McCarron – had scored from play inside 20 minutes.

Monaghan deployed McGuirk in defence, sometimes sweeping, sometimes picking up Aidan O’Shea, with Fintan Kelly flitting between departments, but they couldn’t plug all the gaps.

Mayo’s running, support play, and slick hand-passing made for some impressive combinations and they increasingly stretched the home rearguard as the half progressed.

Monaghan had to resort to fouling and full-forward Evan Regan and Douglas punished that from frees, the latter putting the visitors ahead for the first time shortly after the half-hour.

A second long-range strike by Karl O’Connell left the sides level at the break, 0-7 apiece, but the pattern changed after the turnaround.

Now Mayo were going ahead, mostly through the placed ball kicking of Douglas and Regan, with Monaghan having to peg them back. Their inside-forward trio and Kearns, with his second point from play, helped them do so, twice, from two points down and then from three back.

However, losing two players late on gave Mayo the space to edge clear at the very end.

Monaghan: R Beggan; R Wylie, C Boyle, B Kerr; F Kelly, K Duffy, K O’Connell (0-2); D Hughes, N Kearns (0-2); O Duffy, P McGuirk, R McAnespie; C McCarthy (0-3, 0-2 frees), J McCarron (0-3, 0-2 frees),

D Garland (0-2).

Subs: P McKenna for O Duffy (42); D Malone for McCarron (53); D Freeman for Garland (57); D Ward for McAnespie (70); C Walshe for K Duffy (64); D Wylie for McGuirk (64).

Yellow cards: Hughes (24); K Duffy (35); Kerr (49 and 72); McGuirk (49); Kearns (54); Walshe (71).

Black cards: Malone (74, not replaced).

Red cards: R Wylie (69), Kerr (72)

Mayo: D Clarke; B Harrison, G Cafferkey, E O’Donoghue (0-1); C Boyle, S Nally, P Durcan (0-2); J Gibbons, S Coen; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, D O’Connor; N Douglas (0-4, 0-2 frees, 0-2 45s), E Regan (0-5, 0-4 frees), A Moran (0-1). Subs: C O’Connor for Douglas (58); D Kirby for D O’Connor (59, black card); C Loftus for Moran (62); S Akram for Nally (67)

Yellow cards: Boyle (54); Gibbons (65).

Black card: D O’Connor (59, replaced by Kirby).

Referee: David Gough (Meath)