GAA Football

Monaghan star Kearns plays starring role as Sean McDermott's surge past Cookstown

FRANCIS MOONEY

Ulster Club JFC preliminary round: Sean McDermott's (Monaghan) 3-8 Cookstown (Tyrone) 1-6

A MIDFIELD masterclass from Niall Kearns and Adam O'Driscoll's 2-3 salvo inspired Sean McDermott's to victory over Cookstown in an incident-packed Ulster Club JFC preliminary round tie at Clones.

The Red Hand champions finished with 12 men as their challenge disintegrated in the second half.

The Monaghan men have just a week to get ready for their first round clash with Belleek of Armagh next Sunday but will not lack in confidence following this impressive display.

“Adam's been fantastic this year for us and got man of the match in the county final. He came back in a bit later in the year and has been racking up outrageous scores so we're very pleased with that,” said Sean McDermott's captain Paraic McGuirk.

“Niall Kearns in the middle, in my opinion he's one of the best midfielders in the country and we also have a great foundation in defence so we're very pleased with the talent we have.”

He admitted that the provincial series is a bonus for his side, having achieved their man objective in winning the Monaghan title.

“We knew the record Cookstown have in both Ulster and the All-Ireland in the last decade or so, so we knew we'd be up against it. But to be honest this was almost a bonus game for us, we were very much focused on the county championship.”

It couldn't have started any better for the Farney men as O'Driscoll fired home their first goal after just 90 seconds, before shooting them five ahead by the seventh minute.

Cookstown got off the mark with a Barry Potter 45 in the 12th minute, and as they slowly got to the pace of the game, Matthew Carberry narrowed the gap further.

The power and directness of the Sean McDermott's men had caused all sorts of problems in the opening quarter, but the Tyrone side closed down channels and got their own attacking game going.

Having played second fiddle for much of the half, they got right back in contention when Potter netted a penalty, and Carberry's stoppage time point sent them in at the break with an unlikely 1-4 to 1-3 lead.

But another McDermott's surge saw them make a thunderous start to the second half, with Kearns winning a penalty that O'Driscoll netted, before Kearns pushed them four ahead.

And matters took an even more serious twist for Cookstown when Michael Oscar Devlin received a straight red card, and soon afterwards their other wing back Oisin MacNia picked up two yellows as tempers flared.

Sean McDermott's made the game safe with a third goal from substitute Eamon McQuillan late on, while Cookstown's only two second half scores came from substitutes John Gilmore and James McGahan.

They finished with 12 men after a second booking brought an early end to Nathan Connolly's afternoon.

Sean McDermott's: M Keogh; A Maguire, J Murphy, J Clerkin; E McElvaney, C Kearns, J Keenan; P McGuirk (0-1), N Kearns (0-4, 0-1 free); N Rice, O McKenna, D McNally; J Treanor, A O'Driscoll (2-3, 1-0 pen), A McNally.

Subs: E McQuillan for McElvaney, P Murphy for Treanor, C Connolly for McNally

Cookstown: A McCullagh; R Pickering, M McNeill, R Donnelly; M O Devlin, C Donnelly, O MacNia; C O'Hare, R Mullan; S McLaughlin, B Potter (1-1, 1-0 pen, 0-1 45), S O'Driscoll; N Connolly, M Carberry (0-2, 0-1 free), M Murray (0-1).

Subs: J Gilmore (0-1) for Potter, J McGahan (0-1) for McLaughlin, P McGurk for O'Driscoll, D McElhatton for C Donnelly.

Referee: D O'Hare (Down).

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