Thursday 22 November 2018

Magic Monaghan march on to All Ireland semis with with thumping win over Galway

Monaghan 0-16 Galway 0-8

Conor McManus of Monaghan celebrates following his side's victory
Conor McManus of Monaghan celebrates following his side's victory
Galway goalkeeper Ruairí Lavelle saves a shot at goal by Shane Carey of Monaghan

Frank Roche

HUNGER is a great sauce. Monaghan came to Pearse Stadium knowing they had to get a result. Galway didn’t need to. And Monaghan won by a double-scores landslide.

A huge Farney invasion had turned Salthill into Clones by the Sea, outnumbering their Galwegian hosts in a massive attendance of 15,200 … and when the final whistle blew in the seventh minute of stoppage-time, hundreds of them were already hogging the touchline. 

Cue the inevitable pitch invasion, as Monaghan celebrated qualifying for their first All-Ireland SFC final in three decades, since 1988.

And guess what? It could get even better. By dint of beating Galway on the scoreboard (and in every single facet of the game) they secured top spot in Group 1 of the ‘Super 8s’.

The prize for that is avoiding All-Ireland champions Dublin at the last-four stage, and instead they’ll play either Tyrone or fellow Ulster rivals Donegal in Croke Park next Sunday.

Both teams finished with 13 men after a ragged conclusion – Drew Wylie (69 minutes) and Colin Walshe (74) departed on second yellows while Galway skipper Damien Comer was also dismissed on a double-booking along with Walshe. At the same moment Seán Kelly hobbled off injured, Galway having already emptied their bench.

Whether the psychology of qualifying in advance proved Galway’s undoing is a moot point; what cannot be denied is the sheer awfulness of their performance.

They trailed by two, having played with a strong wind, and were even worse on the resumption. They tagged on just three more points from Comer, Eamonn Brannigan and Ian Burke whereas Monaghan added nine.

The livewire Ryan McAnespie added two more points to complement his first half brace while the equally prominent Conor McManus brought his evening’s haul to 0-5 with four second half efforts, one from play and three booming frees from distance.

Long before ‘keeper Rory Beggan advanced to land a monster free from 60 metres, just before the hour, you just knew it was Monaghan’s day.

Galway may have already booked their semi-final passage in advance but, when their starting team was announced, there was no sense of experimentation or taking the foot off the pedal from Kevin Walsh.

Walsh made two changes from the ‘15’ that started in Newbridge, with a wing-back recall for Gary O’Donnell and attacking promotion for Adrian Varley on the foot of some impressive recent cameos off the bench.

Monaghan, desperately craving their first semi-final place in 30 years, stuck with the same team that started with such thrilling intent against Kerry in Clones.

Galway won the toss, elected to play with a typically fresh Salthill breeze, and led inside 20 seconds through Brannigan.

So far, so serene for the hosts.

But, very quickly, Monaghan’s more urgent need manifested itself throughout the pitch. It could be seen in the strength of their tackling and their ability to force more turnovers - Karl O’Connell’s dispossession of roaming full-back Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh a first half standout.

That also translated onto the scoreboard, as a hat-trick of points from Fintan Kelly, Vincent Corey and Darren Hughes (set up by Corey) pushed them two clear before Shane Walsh, from an 18th minute free, ended a long barren spell for the Tribesmen.

This prompted another spell of dominance who landed four of the next five points, bookended by a brace from McAnespie.

It was looking grim for Galway, but points from Gary O’Donnell and another Walsh free left them within touching distance, 0-7 to 0-5, at the break.

SCORERS - Monaghan: C McManus 0-5 (4f), R McAnespie 0-4, D Hughes 0-2, F Kelly, V Corey, C Walshe, D Malone, R Beggan (f) 0-1 each. Galway: E Brannigan, S Walsh (2f) 0-2 each, P Cooke, G O’Donnell, D Comer, I Burke 0-1 each.

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; K Duffy, D Wylie, R Wylie; K O’Connell, C Walshe, V Corey; N Kearns, D Hughes; F Kelly, D Malone, S Carey; C McCarthy, R McAnespie, C McManus.

Subs: J McCarron for McCarthy (59), N McAdam for Kearns (63), P McKenna for Carey (66), D Mone for O’Connell (68).

GALWAY: R Lavelle; D Kyne, SA Ó Ceallaigh, E Kerin; C Sweeney, G Bradshaw, G O’Donnell; P Cooke, T Flynn; S Kelly, S Walsh, E Brannigan; I Burke, D Comer, A Varley.

Subs: P Sweeney for Varley (43), C Duggan for Cooke (52), J Heaney for Ó Ceallaigh (57), P Cunningham for Brannigan (60), D Wynne for Kerin (63), D Cummins for Burke (68).

REF: C Lane (Cork).

ATT: 15,200

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