GAA Football

No complaints but plenty of regrets as Monaghan bow out of Ulster Championship race

Conor McManus scored six points but Monaghan lost to Derry at the Athletic Grounds. Pic Philip Walsh
Andy Watters

MONAGHAN created 34 scoring chances and took exactly half of them and, against a team as good as Derry, you can't expect to do that and win.

Manager Seamus McEnaney lamented his side's poor shooting and the concession of three goals that each came at just the right time for the Oak Leafers yesterday. Monaghan trailed by seven points at the break but had closed the gap to three in the second half before Paul Cassidy clipped over a point to steady the Derry ship and then Benny Heron sent it steaming for port with his side's third goal.

“We left ourselves with too much to do and in an Ulster championship match, 50-50, you can't concede three goals and expect to win,” said McEnaney.

“We scored 17 points and we would have expected 17 points to win the game for us but we conceded two very, very soft goals and we'd be disappointed with that.

“We got a reaction and felt if we got the game down to two points with 10 minutes to go we'd a serious chance of winning, with the momentum. I think we pinned them in for 20-25 minutes, but we didn't take our opportunities, they got the (third) goal and that was a huge, huge swing against us.

“We'd never question their character, they give me everything all the time but we just never got close enough. We'd be very disappointed, our execution just wasn't good enough - we felt we could come here to win but we just left too much behind.”

Monaghan go into the Qualifier route now and, despite the disappointment of yesterday's loss, McEnaney remains confident that his team is a match for the best in the country.

“We've a lot of experience in the dressing room and we'll dust ourselves down and get ready for three weeks' time, or whenever it is,” he said.

“I think we can still have a big say in this Championship, we've a good enough team to match anyone in the country, and whoever comes to us we'll have to take it.”

As for Derry, Rory Gallagher's side backed up their win against Tyrone with another mighty impressive performance yesterday. They did the spadework for their victory in the first half and weathered a Monaghan storm to seal the deal in the second.

“I wouldn't say they're a hard team to figure out, they work extremely hard to get back behind the ball, they turn you over and can get out at pace,” said McEnaney.

“They're very well organised and Rory Gallagher is a top-class coach and he has proven that down the years. So we knew exactly what we were up against here today, we just left ourselves with too much to do in the second half.”

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