GAA Football

St Mary's hold Monaghan to a draw in McKenna Cup

Barry McGinn top scored for Monaghan with 1-7 in their Dr McKenna Cup draw with St Mary’s at Clones yesterday Picture by Seamus Loughran
From John P Graham in Clones

Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Section B: Monaghan 1-14 St Mary's University College, Belfast 0-17

ST Mary's recovered from the heavy reverse they suffered at the hands of Armagh in their previous outing to deservedly take a share of the spoils in this fairly low-key and, at times, scrappy affair that was played in difficult, wintry conditions in Clones yesterday.

St Mary's were the better side. They looked sharper, particularly in key areas, and their defensive strategy repeatedly frustrated Monaghan's attacking efforts.

Overall, this was a lacklustre performance from the home side who simply committed too many errors on the day and whose handling at times was decidedly sloppy.

Monaghan made nine changes from the win over Antrim with Colm Lennon, Barry Kerr, Karl O'Connell, Ryan McAnespie, Micheal Bannigan and Barry McGinn the only players to retain their places and the match also saw a senior

debut for Carrickmacross player Stephen O'Hanlon.

The raft of changes that Malachy O'Rourke made may explain Monaghan's lacklustre performance, but full credit must go to the students for their commitment and willingness to chase and harry at every opportunity and had they capitalised on a couple of goal chances, the result might well have been different.

St Mary's got off to much the better start with Aaron Boyle pointing after just 15 seconds and Colm Byrne putting them two up after five minutes.

Monaghan opened their account in the seventh minute through McAnespie and they then went on to hit three on the trot, two by McGinn (one a free) and the other a well-worked score for Thomas Kerr, to open a two-point lead after 14 minutes.

Steven McConville pointed a free for the students in the 16th minute to narrow the margin to one, with Dermot Malone then putting the home side two up after 20 minutes.

By the 23rd minute, though, St Mary's were back on level terms with points by Shane McGuigan, who picked up the man-of-the-match award, and Byrne.

St Mary's then re-took the lead in the 25th minute with a point from a free by McConville, but Monaghan struck back for a brace from McAnespie and McGinn (free) to retake the lead.

McGuigan equalised for St Mary's in the final five minutes of the half and the sides went in level at the break after an exchange of points between Bannigan (free) and McGuigan.

Monaghan got off to a great start in the second half with three quick-fire points in the opening four minutes, two by McGinn, one from a free and the other by Conor Boyle.

McConville (above) replied for St Mary's and they went on to capitalise on careless play by Monaghan with points from Tom O'Kane and substitute Daniel McKinless to level the match.

McGinn restored Monaghan to the lead in the 47th minute and when he goaled two minutes later after excellent work by O'Hanlon, to put Monaghan four in front, it looked as if they had weathered the storm.

St Mary's though refused to go away. Ryan Coleman hit an excellent point in the 51st minute with McGinn converting another free for Monaghan to keep them four points ahead entering the final quarter.

Crucially, though, Monaghan were only to score one further point in the game and that came from substitute David Garland with seven minutes of normal time remaining.

Prior to that, St Mary's had points from substitute Aaron Duffy and an excellent effort from Ryan Coleman and the Monaghan goal enjoyed something of a charmed life when Jack Hannigan had a goal at his mercy but blasted wide from close range.

Garland's point put Monaghan three in front but in the final seven minutes of normal time and the three minutes of stoppage time that were added, it was St Mary's who found their range with two pointed frees from McGuigan and the final score of the game from Aaron Boyle, to level matters a minute into stoppage time.

Monaghan enjoyed possession for a spell after the equaliser but could find no way through a massed St Mary's defence and by that stage they were also down to 14 players after McAnespie was sin-binned with five minutes of normal time remaining.

Monaghan: S Garland; S Finnegan, C Boyle (0-1), C Lennon; T Kerr (0-1), K O'Connell, B Kerr; D Hughes,

N McAdam; R McAnespie 0-2, D Malone (0-1), A Lynch; M Bannigan (0-1 free), S O'Hanlon, B McGinn (1-7, 0-3 frees)

Subs: F Connolly for N McAdam (8), V Corey for A Lynch (46), C McCarthy for M Bannigan (48), D Garland (0-1) for

T Kerr (53).

Yellow cards: T Kerr, D Hughes

Black card: Ryan McAnespie

St Mary's: M Reid; C McAllister, T O'Kane (0-1), M Rooney; C Byrne (0-1), R McCusker, J Hannigan (0-1);

S McConville (0-3, 0-2 frees), L Devlin; A Boyle (0-2), R Coleman (0-2),

R McSherry; S McGuigan (0-5, 0-3 frees), N Toner, C McKinney.

Subs: D McKinless (0-1) for L Devlin (28), O Donnelly for N Toner (h-t), C Stinton for

C McAllister (41), A Duffy (0-1) for T O'Kane (46), R McGrath for J Hannigan (63).

Yellow cards: A Boyle, R McSherry, D McKinless

Referee: P Faloon (Down)

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