Monday 20 January 2020

McEneaney left deflated as Kildare cruise through

Kildare 1-15 Monaghan 1-11

DERMOT CROWE at Croke Park

THE programme notes informed us that only 38 per cent of losing provincial finalists survive the fourth round of the qualifiers and this did not alter the trend.

Monaghan arrived at Croke Park yesterday badly bruised, just six days after losing an Ulster final to Tyrone. Despite a bright start they followed the script to its predictable end.

Four points separated them from Kildare, but the scoreboard tells a lie. The Lilywhites were nine points clear in the second half when they pressed the snooze button and in the final 10 minutes began to shoot wides as a team that knows the danger is removed might. Monaghan sub Hugh McElroy scored a late goal and further points from Stephen Gollogly and Paul Finlay offered the Ulstermen a veneer of respectability.

Afterwards, their manager of six seasons, Seamus McEneaney would not be drawn on his immediate plans. "I have given six years to this job and I have been very proud of the players who have taken Monaghan from a very low ebb to among the top-eight counties in the country. Today is not a day to be discussing such issues. I enjoyed my six years, they are a fantastic group of players and gave every ounce of energy in their bodies."

He admitted it had been a difficult week. "A week in football is a long time. Monaghan was in a great place seven days ago. A disappointing week certainly; a frustrating week. We had injury problems, missing JP Mone, our captain Vinny Corey and Shane Duffy. But no excuses. We were in a good position after 15 minutes and came out fighting but there were two 10-minute periods where they completely controlled it that crucified us."

The Tyrone defeat, he accepted, had stayed in the system. "They (the players) have been very loyal to me." said McEneaney. "These fellas didn't even go out of the house last Sunday because of today's game -- that is the kind of commitment you are talking about. They (Tyrone) absolutely turned the screw on us and to be beaten by 10 points was a big disappointment; over the last six years only twice was this team beaten by more than four points, against Tyrone in 2005 and last Sunday."

It should have been more than four yesterday. When McElroy scored his late goal it earned him the flattering status of Monaghan's top scorer even though he had been on the pitch just 15 minutes. Tommy Freeman had the first score of the game after only 15 seconds but failed to register another. None of the Monaghan forwards were able to make an impact and the midfielder Dick Clerkin was taken off after one of his poorest games in the jersey.

Fatigue has to be taken into account, and Kildare, a week after starting slowly in a big win over Derry, recovered from a tame beginning to take total charge. They could afford the luxury of John Doyle having left his shooting boots at home; he kicked six first-half wides, three of them scoreable frees. In the second half he miscued another and Kildare's best player, James Kavanagh, stepped up to the next free and -- from the wrong side for a right-footed player -- scored a beauty. Kavanagh destroyed Monaghan and a succession of markers, scoring four points from play and setting up a second-half goal for Ronan Sweeney.

Monaghan had the game's first two scores, and led 0-4 to 0-1 after 20 minutes in a dreadful, error-strewn first half. Kildare shot nine wides over the half and spurned a goal chance after a mix-up between the Monaghan goalkeeper and Dessie Mone who went for the same ball, spilling it into the path of Alan Smith.

The Kildare forward did a quick survey and decided to roll across the exposed goal hoping for a white jersey to arrive on cue with the finish. Nobody did.

Kieran Hughes scored Monaghan's fifth point 12 minutes from the break to leave a goal between them and Kildare felt compelled to do something. Ken Donnelly was withdrawn, Eoghan O'Flaherty went on in his place and with his first touch he scored a point. That started a procession of late Kildare scores: the last four of the half were all theirs. O'Flaherty set up another for Eamon Callaghan, Kavanagh kicked a huge effort and then Doyle had the final say when Callaghan was fouled after a tremendous run.

A point up at half time, they went for broke on the restart. They outscored Monaghan 0-5 to 0-1 in the opening 10 minutes, Kavanagh scoring three times, and the game already looked beyond Monaghan's tired reach. Sweeney's goal made sure.

Scorers -- Kildare: J Kavanagh 0-5 (0-1f); R Sweeney 1-1; E O'Flaherty, E Callaghan; J Doyle (2f) 0-2 each, D Flynn, A Smith, E Bolton 0-1. Monaghan: H McElroy 1-0; P Finlay 0-3 (0-1 f); T Freeman, K Hughes, C Hanratty, O Lennon, C McManus (f), D Hughes, S Gollogly, D Freeman 0-1 each

Kildare: S McCormack; P Kelly, H McGrillen, A MacLochlainn; E Callaghan, E Bolton, B Flanagan; D Flynn, D Earley; J Doyle, P O'Neill, M O'Flaherty; A Smith, J Kavanagh, K Donnelly. Subs: E O'Flaherty for Donnelly (28); R Sweeney for O'Neill (ht); G White for Earley (57); K Cribben for Bolton (60); D Whyte for M O'Flaherty (62)

Monaghan: P McBennett; D Hughes, D Mone, C Walshe; D Freeman, G McQuaid, D McArdle; O Lennon, D Clerkin; P Finlay, R Woods, K Hughes; C Hanratty C McManus, T Freeman. Subs: S Gollogly for Hanratty (40); K Duffy for McArdle (46); H McElroy for Walshe (51); F Caulfield for Clerkin (57); M McElroy for McManus (62)

Referee: J White (Donegal)

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