Monaghan pay heavy price as second half goal rush sends Kerry top
Allianz National Football League Division One: Monaghan 1-12 Kerry 3-14
SEAMUS McEnaney said he would trust Rory Beggan “with the keys to the safe” after the Monaghan goalkeeper’s bursts up the field towards the end of last weekend’s draw in Armagh.
At Grattan Park yesterday, the keys were stolen and the safe emptied as Kerry ran riot in a devastating second half that saw the Farneymen slip deep into the relegation mire with three games to go.
Their Division One survival hopes now look like going right down to wire after goals from David Clifford in the 38th and 41st minutes, and a third from Sean O’Shea left Monaghan facing a potentially embarrassing scoreline.
McEnaney’s men rallied in the last 10 minutes, and while the late 1-4 mustered might have mattered little when all was said and done, it could prove valuable should score difference decide their fate down the track.
That won’t have been in Farney thoughts as they exited Inniskeen yesterday, though. Instead, it is the sloppy play and unforced errors that proved so costly which will weigh heavily.
And Beggan, for all the brilliance that earned him a 2018 Allstar and has seen him rightly acclaimed among the best ’keepers in the land, won’t be rushing to watch back this video nasty.
All three goals came either from turnovers or Monaghan gifting possession, and were ruthlessly dispatched by the kings of a Kingdom side who now sit top of Division One.
Clifford’s first finished off a brilliant move when he ran in on Kieran Duffy’s blindside to collect a pass from brother Paudie, getting there just ahead of Beggan to leave himself the easiest of finishes to an empty net.
For the second three minutes later, Monaghan – now trailing by six and playing into a stiff wind – paid the price for going gung-ho to try and close the gap. Out came Beggan around centrefield but, as Darren Hughes failed to get enough purchase on the low pass towards his Scotstown team-mate, O’Shea nipped in to steal possession.
Clifford was already on the move and as O’Shea launched a high ball forward, Duffy was left in a one-on-one foot race with the Fossa phenomenon. This must be every defender’s worst nightmare.
Hauling and bouncing off each other over the initial 20 yards, it was Clifford who judged the bounce best to poke home. Game, set and match with half an hour to go – and Kerry boss Jack O’Connor admitted it wasn’t by accident that Beggan had his pocket picked in such devastating fashion.
“Well, we’d mentioned it alright,” he said, “[we wanted] to try and get a bit of heat on him because he’s had a fierce influence on games.”
When the third goal arrived with 13 minutes left, things were threatening to turn ugly as an eerie hush descended over Inniskeen. This time Jack Barry produced a superb catch before playing in O’Shea, whose beautiful looping shit/attempt at a point instead dropped over Beggan’s head and nestled in the net.
Thirteen ahead with 13 to play, other goal chances came and went as the Kingdom spurned opportunities to edge towards a double figure winning margin – Beggan pulling off a fine save to deny sub Paul Geaney as the clock ticked down.
That Monaghan, aided by a Conor McManus penalty, managed to haul it back to eight by the long whistle will go some way to limiting the psychological scars against Donegal in a fortnight.
McEnaney hopes the injured quartet of Ryan McAnespie, Conor McCarthy, Jack McCarron and Sean Jones will all be available for the trip to fortress Ballybofey, where the Tir Chonaill are unbeaten in the League since 2010.
And as for Beggan’s eye-catching ventures out the field, McEnaney has faced questions before, and will face more in future. For the Corduff man, though, the reward always outweighs the risk.
“Yeah listen, it came from a turnover,” he said of the second goal, “it was a bad pass out the field and when you’re playing your goalkeeper as far out the field, you can’t give away turnovers like that there.
"We had to fire everything at Kerry in the second half, he was up the pitch when that happened. As I said, I would trust Rory Beggan with my life, I would trust him with the keys to the safe and nothing has changed.
“It was just a couple of turnovers went badly wrong for us and when you’re playing a team like Kerry, you’re going to get badly punished. But it was our flattest performance of 2022.
“We were very sloppy at times, our touch was poor, we didn’t have enough penetration. We had to go full press in the second half to have a cut at them and it just didn’t work out.
“We had three great performances before today, and we didn’t become a bad team overnight.”
Monaghan: R Beggan; R Wylie, Kieran Duffy (0-1), C Boyle; K Lavelle, D Ward (0-1), S Hanratty; D Hughes, N Kearns; A Woods (0-1), S Carey, M Bannigan (0-2), C Walshe; K Hughes (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 mark), C McManus (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees). Subs: K O’Connell for Hanratty (HT), F Kelly (0-1) for Walshe (HT), G Mohan for D Hughes (48), J Mealiff for Lavelle (54), A Mulligan for Carey (60), D McElearney for Ward (68)
Yellow cards: D Ward (6), C Boyle (31), R Wylie (54)
Kerry: S Ryan; J Foley, D Casey; T Morley; T O’Sullivan, G Crowley (0-1), B Ó Beaglaíoch; D O’Connor (0-1), J Barry; D Moynihan, S O’Shea (1-2, 0-2 frees), A Spillane; T Brosnan (0-3), D Clifford (2-3, 0-2 frees), P Clifford (0-2). Subs: D O’Donoghue for Casey (HT), S O’Brien (0-1) for Spillane (38), G O’Sullivan for Crowley (53), Paul Geaney (0-1) for D Clifford (60)
Yellow cards: J Barry (14), D Casey (32)
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)