Experimental Monaghan side easily account for Antrim in Dr McKenna Cup
Monaghan 1-20 Antrim 1-12
Monaghan’s attacking power helped them comfortably see off Antrim in today’s opening Dr McKenna Cup tie at Clones.
Malachy O’Rourke fielded an experienced squad which found its flow after a sluggish opening 20 minutes to control a contest minimally affected by the experimental rules.
Monaghan were twice denied scores by falling foul on the new hand-pass rule in the opening half, including the game’s first clear-cut goal chance, with Jack McCarron poised to get in for a close-range shot. The game was halted five times in total for this particular indiscretion.
At that stage the scores were level at 0-5 each, 22 minutes in, but the home side stepped up the tempo, outscoring their opponents by six points to one from there to the break.
McCarron, one of eight men to find the target, steered over three frees, with Darren Freeman scoring twice, as they got on top of an Antrim side that had led by two early on, with Colum Duffin, Ryan Murray and Ruairi McCann all hitting points.
Monaghan led by 0-11 to 0-6 at the interval, and tightened their grip on the contest when Micheal Bannigan slipped a pass to James Mealiff for a thunderous finish to the net three minutes after the restart.
Antrim responded with a Niall Delargy goal, punched home from Matthew Fitzpatrick’s cross, but they were unable to curb the energy and movement of Ryan McAnespie and Micheal Bannigan, who were at the heart of Monaghan’s attacking strategy throughout.
McCarron finished with five points, with goalkeeper Rory Beggan, as always, chipping in from a placed ball to become the tenth Farney player to score.
Ryan Murray’s six points tally was not enough to save Antrim from an eight points reversal, but manager Lenny Harbinson will have seen plenty of positives to work on.
Monaghan scorers: J Mealiff 1-1, J McCarron 0-5 (4f), M Bannigan 0-4 (3f), B McGinn 0-3, D Freeman 0-2, R McAnespie, J Walshe, B Kerr. C Lennon, R Beggan (f) 0-1 each.
Antrim scorers: N Delargy 1-0, R Murray 0-6 (3f), P McBride 0-2 (2f), R McCann, C Duffin, P McCormack, E McCabe 0-1 each
Monaghan: R Beggan; K Duffy, F Kelly, C Lennon; John McCarron, F Connolly, B Kerr; J Mealiff, K O’Connell; J Walshe, M Bannigan, R McAnespie; D Freeman, Jack McCarron, B McGinn.
Subs: T Kerr for Kelly (49), G Dougan for O’Connell (49), C Boyle for John McCarron (49), C Walshe for Mealiff (55), V Corey for Kerr (55)
Antrim: P Nugent; C Hamill, P Gallagher, O McKeown; D McCormack, N Delargy, P McCormack; F Burke, P Finnegan; M McCarry, M Sweeney, R Murray; M Fitzpatrick, C Duffin, R McCann.
Subs: A Sweeney for Hamill (h-t), P McBride for P McCormack (h-t), D Lynch for D McCormack (h-t), C Lemon for McKeown (48), E McCabe for Burke (56)
Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).