Monaghan hat-trick hero McCarthy rues missed chance to claim Allianz League victory over Donegal

Monaghan's Conor McCarthy Picture: Seamus Loughran.
From Gerry McLaughlin in Ballybofey

Allianz Football League Division One North: Donegal 1-20 Monaghan 4-11

MONAGHAN came desperately close to knocking out a dithery but gritty Donegal side on their own patch in Ballybofey on Saturday.

They hit four great goals, could have had six more and exposed frailties in the Tir Chonaill defence that could require major surgery.

Donegal lost their talismanic captain Michael Murphy to injury after just five minutes and looked rudderless for long periods thereafter.

Indeed, Murphy was only a minute off the pitch when Conor McCarthy scored the first of three cracking goals as the flying Farney boys had Donegal on the ropes.

A disappointed McCarthy rued those missed chances when his team had Donegal beaten but just could not land the knock-out blow in Ballybofey.

Monaghan threw away a nine-point lead in the first half as Paddy McBrearty led a second half comeback to get shaky Donegal out of jail.

“That was one that got away and the feeling coming off is one of disappointment," said McCarthy.

“We put ourselves in a good position at half-time but we just could not push on and close it out and that is really disappointing.”

“It was a great first half and we targeted a good start, and we can take positives from that and it did work out for us in the first half.

“Ok we got some goals, but we created even more and missed them.”

“We got a draw, but it really feels like we left that game behind us.”

McCarthy agreed that Monaghan’s pace did trouble Donegal a lot in the first half.

“We have always had pace in this team, and it was just having that belief to take your man on, and we did it in first half but not a much in the second half. But the message was to go at our men, and it really worked in the first half.”

McCarthy hit a superb hat-trick in a first half when the Donegal defence went man for man and were heavily wounded.

Time and again they were caught for pace as McCarthy, Stephen O’Hanlon, Aaron Mulligan Stephen O’Hanlon and the raiding Karl O’Connell ripped their defence to shreds in the opening half.

The fancied home side seemed to lose their totally when they lost talismanic team captain Michael Murphy after just five minutes.

Murphy limped off injured after just five minutes and a minute later McCarthy struck for the first of three cracking goals when he took a pass from Stephen O’Hanlon and cooly rifled the ball to the net.

That put Monaghan into a 1-4 to 0-4 lead and a shell-shocked Donegal defence were to cope with the penetration of the flying Farney forwards.

Once again, the Donegal defence were unable to cope with the pace of O’Connell who found McCarthy and he slipped the ball confidently to the net to leave Monaghan leading by 2-4 to 0-4.

And he repeated the dose five minutes later when he cut through for a brilliant solo goal to put them nine points in front by the

Donegal did hit back with a fine goal from Michael Langan to leave Monaghan leading by 3-7 to 1-9 at the break.

They added another goal from second half sub Conor McManus and opened up a seven point lead mid- way through the second half.

But some excellent scores from talented youngsters Niall O’Donnell and Oisin Gallen and the cool finishing of McBrearty earned them a scarcely deserved draw.

Relieved Donegal boss Declan Bonner said he was “happy to get a draw.”

“It was a game that ebbed and flowed. Any day you score 1-20 you expect to win it but any day you concede four goals and possibly another couple you don’t expect to win it," said Bonner.

“We are happy to get a draw and there is a lot we need to get right going into Armagh on Saturday.

“Normally our defensive shape is good, but I thought today that we were just breached far too easily.

“It was all over the park and the damage was coming from all over the park.”

“But we kicked some brilliant scores in the last quarter to get the draw.

Donegal: S Patton; E Ban Gallagher (0-1) N McGee, B McCole; R McHugh, P Brennan, P Mogan (0-1); H McFadden, C McGonagle (0-1); N O’Donnell (0-3) C Thompson (0-2) M Langan (1-2); P McBrearty (0-8, 0-4 frees), M Murphy, O Gallen (0-2)

Subs; D O’Baoill for M Murphy (6), E McHugh for P Brennan (h-t), O MacNiallas for H McFadden (48), S McMenaming for N McGee (56), P McGrath for E Ban Gallager, J McGee for B McCole (64)

Monaghan: R Beggan; C Duffy, C Boyle, R Wylie; K O’Connell (0-1) K McMenamin, R McAnespie (0-1); D Hughes, K Lavelle; S O’Hanlon, A Mulligan (0-3, 0-2 frees) M Bannigan (0-2, 0-1 free); C McCarthy (3-1) A Woods, S Jones.

Red card: C Boyle (49)

Subs: C McManus (1-2, 0-1 free), for S Jones (h-t), S Hanratty for M Bannigan (41) N Kearns for A Woods (52), J McCarron for S O’Hanlon, C Lennon for K O’Connell (58) G Mohan for A Mulligan

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)



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