Wednesday 25 April 2018

Out-of-touch Sligo slump to a heavy defeat

Mark Quinn breaks up a Monaghan attack during last Sunday's Allianz Football League game at Clones
Mark Quinn breaks up a Monaghan attack during last Sunday's Allianz Football League game at Clones

Sligo turned in a hugely disappointing display in round three of the Allianz Football League at Clones on Sunday, slumping to an eight point defeat to Monaghan.

Five points in arrears at the interval, Sligo never looked capable of turning things around after the break and a well-taken goa by Christopher McGuinness eleven minutes into the second period put the issue beyond all doubt.

Johnny Martyn, Ross Donavan, Charlie Harrison, Adrian Marren and second half substitute, James Kilcullen, tried all they knew to draw Sligo back into it but they were fighting an uphill battle almost from the start.

Tactically, they were unable to cope with Monaghan's blanket defence and were completely outplayed in the battle for midfield possession until Kilcullen's introduction, by which time the game was already slipping away from them.

Both sides were guilty of some wayward play in the first half, with Sligo lacking the creativity and movement to unhinge Monaghan's vigilant defence.

Indeed, Sligo managed just two shots on target in the opening thirty-five minutes and both of those resulted in scores from Adrian Marren.

Monaghan, for their part, were quite effective at blocking the path to their goal but weren't quite as impressive in possession.

They created plenty of chances but were quite wasteful, shooting five wides from very good positions in the opening quarter alone.

There was no lack of effort from either side but the lack of quality was reflected in the fact that there was only one score in the opening twenty minutes.

That came in the 8th minute when Tommie Freeman released Eoin Duffy and he swung over a great score from an acute angle.

Earlier, Monaghan missed a number of good chances, either by overelaboration or by poor finishing, most notably when Freeman fisted the ball wide of the target with only the 'keeper to beat.

The Ulster side had another goal chance in the 12th minute but on this occasion Christopher McGuinness fisted wide after a good run by the impressive Dessie Mohan had created the opportunity.

Sligo's first threat of any consequence came after 14 minutes when Monaghan 'keeper, Rory Began, was obliged to race from his line to thwart Niall Murphy after Brian Egan's long pass caught the home side's defence out of position.

After some sloppy play by both sides, Monaghan finally found the target again when Duffy ran through unchallenged to claim his side's second score in the 21st minute.

That drew an instant reply from Sligo as Marren took a long pass in his stride, cleverly worked his way past two challenges, and then sent over in brilliant style.

Freeman, from a free, restored Monghan's two point advantage before Marren struck for Sligo again, picking off another excellent score after a brave block by Johnny Martyn had set the move in motion.

At the other end, Kieran Hughes punched over when a goal chance was on and then Dick Clerkin rattled over an excellent long range score to put Monaghan 0-5 to 0-2 in front.

The Ulster side finished the half strongly and Hughes added on another point just before the break to send his side in with a four point advantage.

A point from a hotly disputed '45' by Rory Beggan got Monaghan up and running in the second half before Niall Murphy and Kieran Hughes swapped points.

Sligo were still close enough to make a contest of it at this stage but the game swung decisively against them when Monaghan struck for a superbly-crafted goal in the 46th minute.

Duffy and Freeman exchanged passes in a blistering move and McGuinness ran through to crash the ball to the net to give his side a 1-8 to 0-3 lead.

The introduction of former Mayo player, James Kilcullen, gave Sligo a new lease of life in terms of winning possession but they lacked penetration in attack, with Marren the only forward capable of causing problems for the home side.

The Curry man hit two scores in quick succession, one from a free, which gave Sligo some hope but, in truth, Monaghan were never in danger of losing their grip on the exchanges.

Colin Walsh, up from full back, made it 1-11 to 0-5, before Marren once again came up with the goods, sending over a great score after good work by Charlie Harrison and Keelan Cawley.

Marren added on a point from a free near the end but, appropriately, it was Monaghan who had the last word, a well-taken point by McGuinness.

Sligo Champion