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Fab Farneymen raid Orchard

Magical Monaghan breezed into the Ulster SFC semi-finals with a ruthless demolition of Armagh at Casement Park.

The game was up for the Orchard men as soon as corner forward Brian Mallon received a straight red card just before half-time. But that should not be allowed to diminish the quality of this Farney display, which was laced with passion, fervour, teamwork, and superb finishing.

They now await the winners of next weekend's clash of Cavan and Fermanagh, but assistant manager Paul Grimley warned supporters that they should not allow themselves to be carried away.

"One performance in the Ulster Championship never reflects onto the next game, so you just have to be equally as prepared," said the former Armagh selector.

There was drama even before the ball was thrown in. With substitute goalkeeper Sean Gorman quitting the Farney squad, full-back Darren Hughes was forced to pull on the No1 shirt in the absence of the injured Shane Duffy. Hughes never put a foot wrong.

"It was a fantastic performance by Darren Hughes. He has shown great stature in every position he has played for Monaghan, especially today," said Grimley.

Monaghan led by 1-7 to 0-6 at half-time after Tommy Freeman had taken a Ciaran Hanratty pass to beat Paul Hearty.

Earlier, Steven McDonnell swept over four Armagh points, but the tide had turned decidedly even before playmaker Mallon was sent off for striking out at Rory Woods.

"We're very disappointed with the sending off. Brian is a competitive boy, but he's not a dirty player. It looked to me like he just made a shoulder tackle, but maybe it was a bit clumsy," said Armagh manager Paddy O'Rourke.



Sweeper

"These things happen and you have to try and deal with them. We probably didn't come to terms with it. Monaghan stretched the lead and it was very easy for them to sit with a sweeper in front of Stevie (McDonnell) and Jamie (Clarke), and it was very difficult for us to get the scores."

Monaghan tore into the 14-man Orchard side in the second half, with Paul Finlay striking some gems, Freeman and his brother Damien also on target, and points as well from Dick Clerkin and sub Hugh McElroy.

Armagh managed just three second-half points as they tumbled towards the qualifiers.

Grimley believes his native county can still make an impact on the race for Sam, though.

"I don't think that's a true reflection on them. Every team in Ulster, and indeed the country, will be looking over their shoulder now to see if they draw Armagh in the qualifiers.

"And nobody wants to play Armagh. Armagh are a very good team; they have one or two players to come back into that side and they will be a force.

"Up until this day they have done everything that has been asked of them in the league and in the championship, and they will have unfinished business."

O'Rourke struggled to find consolation or identify positives among the wreckage of his team's heavy defeat.

"Whether you get beat by one point or beat by 12 points, it's very disappointing. We're probably not a team that's known for conceding big scores, but we did today.

"Probably that's because Monaghan have a very good forward line. We're bitterly disappointed and we'll look and see why we did that, and hopefully we'll not repeat it as the year progresses.

"Monaghan are an experienced team, and they're a very good team, they have good players and we knew that.

"I wasn't trying to fool anybody when I said they had as good a forward line as any team in the country. You could see some of the scores they kicked.

"They're a very good team and I don't see any reason why Monaghan shouldn't go on and win the Ulster title, and I would expect that that's what they probably will do."


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