Donegal pay the penalty as Monaghan snatch a share of the spoils
Donegal 1-11 Monaghan 1-11
If yesterday's Ulster derby in Ballybofey was a game of musical chairs, you'd have thought at one stage late on that Monaghan would be the ones standing when the pause button was pressed.
In the end, a draw keeps both in joint-second - a point off Dublin - and in with chance of a place in the Division 1 final, with Monaghan taking on the All-Ireland champions this Sunday and Donegal trekking to Mayo in the last series of regulation fixtures. However, Monaghan, who went 21 minutes at the start of the second-half without scoring and by the time four minutes of injury-time had been signalled in the 70th minute had still only popped over twice in part two, managed to save themselves.
Conor McManus was, unusually, something of a peripheral figure having been well flanked by Paddy McGrath and had scored just one from a free as Donegal were three points in front and perhaps should have been out of sight.
Michael Carroll's first-half goal following a flowing move and Michael Murphy, who was playing here, there and everywhere, had posted seven points. With the wind at their backs, Rory Gallagher's team should have put it to bed but kicked nine wides after the break.
Having penalised Neil McGee for three off-the-ball fouls in the first-half and then both goalkeepers for kick-outs that weren't deemed long enough, referee David Gough had shown he was eagle-eyed if nothing else.
In the 71st minute he spotted a tug on Darren Hughes's jersey by Donegal sub Martin McElhinney and awarded Monaghan a penalty, from which McManus levelled it up.
Monaghan's Jack McCarron scored six times in that first-half to put his team 0-9 to 1-5 ahead at half-time after Kieran Hughes, Michael Bannigan and Owen Duffy had also raised white flags.
The first goal of the contest came on five minutes when Carroll shot past Rory Beggan following a lightning move that involved Ryan McHugh and Eoghan Bán Gallagher. Monaghan, though, managed to shore up at the back thereafter and limited the space Donegal could roam into.
At the start of the second-half, Donegal went from one down to one up in just 37 seconds, with Murphy and Ciaran Thompson on the mark. And it looked as though they would push on from there.
Donegal did, but not at the pace they might have thought. Their shooting wasn't what it might have been and Monaghan would end up dropping six balls short.
Patrick McBrearty came from the bench to kick two points, the second of which, prior to a monster free from Murphy, left Donegal three in front. That looked as though it would be enough, only for McManus to have the final say.
Scorers - Donegal: M Murphy 0-7 (4f), M Carroll 1-0, P McBrearty 0-2, C Thompson, E McHugh 0-1 each. Monaghan: J McCarron 0-6 (4f), C McManus 1-1 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), M Bannigan, K Hughes, O Duffy, S Carey 0-1 each.
Donegal - MA McGinley 6; P McGrath 8, N McGee 5, E Doherty 6; R McHugh 6, P Brennan 5, E Gallagher 6; M Carroll 7, M Murphy 8; C Thompson 6, C Mulligan 6, M O'Reilly 6; J Brennan 5, H McFadden 6, E McHugh 6. Subs: M McHugh 7 for P Brennan (33), K Gillespie 7 for McGee (h-t), P McBrearty 7 for J Brennan (43), K Lacey 6 for Mulligan (50), McElhinney 6 for R McHugh (60), M Langan 6 for Thompson (63), McElhinney (70, b/c).
Monaghan - R Beggan 6; F Kelly 6, D Wylie 7, R Wylie 7; R McAnespie 5, N McAdam 6, K O'Connell 7; D Hughes 6, K Hughes 6; D Ward 6, O Duffy 7, G Doogan 6; M Bannigan 6, J McCarron 8, C McManus 6. Subs: S Carey 7 for McAnespie (7), C McCarthy 6 for Ward (35 b/c), D Malone 6 for Bannigan (42), V Corey 6 for McAdam (46), J Mealiff 6 for Duffy (53, black card), T Kerr 5 for Doogan (68).
Ref - D Gough (Meath).