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McManus and Corey to fore as champions snatch a draw

Monaghan SFC: Clonibret 0-13 Magheracloone 0-13

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Michael P O’Dowd of Clontibret O’Neills in action against Magheracloone Mitchells’ Gavin Doogan. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael P O’Dowd of Clontibret O’Neills in action against Magheracloone Mitchells’ Gavin Doogan. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Michael P O’Dowd of Clontibret O’Neills in action against Magheracloone Mitchells’ Gavin Doogan. Photo: Sportsfile

Down to 14 men and four points in arrears with 10 minutes to play, Clontibret's defence of their Monaghan crown was on shaky ground.

After a draw in their first game against Ballybay, and with just two teams progressing from a five-strong group, Clontibret couldn't afford to lose in their well-appointed home patch.

And here, they found a Magheracloone side who were in the mood to push them further towards the edge.

Even before Jack Gormley's dismissal on a straight red, the visitors had been on top.

At that stage, Conor McManus, who was being tracked by Peter Ward, hadn't registered from play while the ageless Tommy Freeman, an All-Star in 2007, picked off three points from play for the south county side who played smart, effective football.

However, with the prospect of their championship fate being out of their own hands, 14-man Clontibret redoubled their efforts and outscored the visitors by 0-6 to 0-2 down the home straight to secure a share of the spoils for a result that keeps both teams in the hunt.

"It's the old thing, going a man up, if anything it worked against us," Magheracloone manager James Kieran said afterwards.

"At that stage we were moving well and seemed to be controlling the game better. And then maybe a bit of disarray came into it. And from there on, the game was a lot more broken up and there wasn't as much structure to it and it seemed to suit Clontibret."

On the face of it, last year's intermediate winners beating the reigning senior champions would have been a notable result. However, Magheracloone contested a county SFC final as recently as 2017 and, as Clontibret manager John McEntee pointed out, Magheracloone's visit to the intermediate grade was always likely to be a brief one.

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Clontibret O'Neills' Vincent Corey and Paul McArdle of Magheracloone Mitchells battle for the ball. Photo: Sportsfile

Clontibret O'Neills' Vincent Corey and Paul McArdle of Magheracloone Mitchells battle for the ball. Photo: Sportsfile

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Clontibret O'Neills' Vincent Corey and Paul McArdle of Magheracloone Mitchells battle for the ball. Photo: Sportsfile

 

"Magheracloone are a tough side," said the former Armagh star.

Dogged

"They got to the All-Ireland intermediate final so they are not an intermediate team, they never were an intermediate team, they are a proper senior team and they are dogged.

"And they have a couple of classy wee footballers there so we'll take it (the draw). Had we won today we would have been fairly confident we'd make the quarter-final, but as it is we'll have to win our last two matches to get there."

Magheracloone took the lead through Freeman after just 15 seconds and were never headed in the match.

Indeed, Clontibret only got level on two occasions, including when Killian Lavelle fisted over the equalising point deep in injury-time.

And prompted by some intelligent play from Paudie McMahon and driven by former county man Gavin Doogan, the visitors set the tone from early on. By the short whistle, they were good value for their two-point interval lead (0-9 to 0-7).

Magheracloone extended that lead to four points through Alan Kieran and Doogan on the restart, and when Gormley received his marching orders on the 40-minute mark, Clontibret looked to be shipping water.

However, McEntee's side showed admirable doggedness. With just over 10 minutes to play, they still trailed by four after James Lambe stole forward to curl over a tidy point.

McManus, who had earlier steered over his first from play with a beautiful left-footed effort, reduced the gap to three with a free.

And even after Vinny Corey palmed a gilt-edged goal chance off the post, Clontibret kept coming.

Corey boomed over a fine point before substitute Ryan McGuigan cut the gap to one.

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Magheracloone Mitchells Alan McCahey with Dean McDonnell of Clontibret O'Neills. Photo: Sportsfile

Magheracloone Mitchells Alan McCahey with Dean McDonnell of Clontibret O'Neills. Photo: Sportsfile

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Magheracloone Mitchells Alan McCahey with Dean McDonnell of Clontibret O'Neills. Photo: Sportsfile

 

And with Clontibret winning everything around midfield, they fashioned the final chance of the game for Lavelle, who coolly fisted over to secure a share of the spoils.

"You could see Magehracloone were put to the pitch of the game early on. They were full of running and intensity and we weren't," McEntee said.

Magheracloone faded late on, when perhaps the efforts of a third consecutive week in championship action took its toll. But with a win, a draw and a defeat from their outings so far, they remain in the hunt.

"We probably would have (taken a draw beforehand) but the way the game panned out we feel like we left it behind us," James Kieran added.

"At the same time, you have to say Clontibret had a couple of goal chances. We left one behind and then they came down and missed two probably. Three points up against Clontibret, the county champions, you are never relaxed.

"You know there is a kick in them, they are not county champions for nothing and they always fight to the end. And they have quality throughout the team. So there was no relaxing on the sideline. It was tense. I think at the end of the game maybe a draw was a fair result and we came out of it with a point."

SCORERS - Clontibret: C McManus 0-6 (5f); P Boyle 0-2 (1m); D Savage, D McDonnell, V Corey, R McGuigan, K Lavelle 0-1 each. Magheracloone: T Freeman 0-4 (1f); P McMahon, R Farrelly (1f), G Doogan 0-2 each; J Lambe, A Kieran, L Óg Murray 0-1 each.

Clontibret - D McDonald; C Doyle, C Boyle, L Savage; J Gormley, D Mone, D Savage; C Greenan, K Lavelle; D McDonnell, C McManus, E Ward; P Boyle, V Corey, B Greenan. Subs: M P O'Dowd for Doyle (28), F Hughes for Ward (35), R McGuigan for Greenan (50), C McCooey for McDonnell (60+2).

Magheracloone - D Kirk; J Lambe, P Ward, P McArdle; J Doogan, J Ward, K Rudden; J Kieran, G Doogan; B Kieran, A Kieran, P McMahon; T Freeman, L Óg Murray, R Farrelly. Subs: C McKeown for J Doogan (16), P Kirk for Farrelly (24), J Kirk for Rudden (45), A McCahey for Murray (50).

Ref - S Hagan (Sean McDermotts).

Irish Independent