Unlucky Louth suffer late agony
Monaghan 1-11 Louth 1-10
Louth came agonisingly close to picking up their second win in Division 3A over Monaghan in a rain drenched Darver on Sunday.
Leading the game for the majority, Monaghan smashed and grabbed victory with a matching winning burst at the death. Tadhg Campbell levelled with a goal before Mark Treanor snatched the two points on offer with the match winning point in the final minute of the contest.
A harsh end to the campaign for Paul McCormack's men, who went into the local derby with a much changed team from last week's defeat to Armagh yet the upheaval didn't seem to affect them as they played the better hurling throughout.
Right from the outset Louth were much more lively, Gerry McKeown in particular. With first choice free taker Darren Geoghegan serving his suspension from last week's dismissal against Armagh, McKeown seized the opportunity from the outset.
The Knockbridge man landed two fine free's in his audition for the role. McKeown's third free was a telling one too,ironically in its inaccuracy. His shot not entirely off target, but struck the upright and David Stephenson-who has a knack being in the right place at the right time- reacted quickest to pull straight to the back of the net.
Louth were five points up and with Conor Deane buzzing about the field in his sweeper position the hosts were full value for their superiority. Mark Treanor finally got Monaghan off the mark on the 13th minute a neat point from play.
Fergal Rafter then introduced himself to proceedings with an excellent free, McKeown would reply with two more of his own. A wet day in Darver and the two free takers were making a mockery of the conditions with their clean strikes with wet hurls.
Cathal Minogue landed the point of the half, getting ahead of his marker, the wing forward stuck out his hand to catch superbly. Then fired over with venom on the turn, matching skill level of the catch.
Monaghan would finish the half much the strongest, notching four unanswered scores. Louth centre forward James Costelloe leaving the field with a nasty facial injury during this period didn't help matters. Kevin Crawley, Treanor and two more Rafter free's made it 1-5 to 7 at the turn.
Louth still with their noses in front, started the second half in the same fashion as the first, with a McKeown free. Rafter quickly cancelled it out. A dry towel was needed more than ever before every strike as the conditions got worse and the level of difficulty increased.
Rafter did in fact level with a 65 after ten minutes played, but the equaliser seemed to spur Louth on rather than the Farney men.
Louth went on a sequence of four scores on the trot and Costelloe's replacement, Padraig Fallon, proved to be a catalyst for the blitz. The Moninne man was getting on a lot of possession and got himself about the field very well.
As a result of Fallons endeavour, fellow replacements Matthew Fee and Padraic Cunningham found the target with McKeown ending the scoring run with two more free's. That flurry looked to send Louth on their way to local bragging right, which they more than deserved, however their was a sting in the tail.
When Andy McCrave picked up a red card, Rafter nailed the resulting free which set alarm bells ringing for Louth. Tadhg Campbell, now operating inside, got on a ball in the left corner he duly levelled with a clever finish past excellent Kevin McNally but despite the klaxon ringing in their ears, it was too late for Louth now.
With all the momentum with Trevor Hilliards' side, they went about looking for a winner and crushingly for Louth they got it. Treanor showed no mercy, as he cut in from the right wing to give Monaghan the lead for the first time in the game, a game that they never looked like winning.
Louth: Kevin McNally; Andy McCrave, Liam Molloy, Paul Challoner; Jamie McDonnell, Mark Wallace, John Martin; David Kettle, Conor Deane; Cathal Minogue (0-1), James Costelloe, Seaghan Connelly; Feildhim Joyce, David Stephenson (1-0), Gerry McKeown (0-7,7f). Subs: Stephen Kettle for D Kettle, blood (14); Padraig Fallon for J Costelloe, (27); Matthew Fee (0-1) for D Kettle (40); Peter Brennan for D Stephenson (49); Padraic Cunningham (0-1) for S Connelly (49); Robert Wallace for P Challoner (60).
Monaghan: Cillian Sherry; Colin Merrick, Eamonn Collins, Eoin Leonard; Jamie Guinan, Peter Treanor, Conor Gearon; Conor McKenna, Tadhg Campbell (1-0); Padraic McGahon, Fergal Rafter (0-7, 6f, 165), P Finnegan; Kevin Crawley (0-1), Mark Treanor (0-3), Stephen Lambe. Subs: Cormac McNally for E Collins (10); Craig Callan for P Finnegan (47); Pearse McKenna for C Gearon (59); Cathal Power for P McGahon (57); Shane McNally for S Lambe (67).
Referee: Gearóid McGrath (Dublin)