Monaghan strike late to see off spirited Carlow
Carlow 1-7 Monaghan 1-12
Monaghan were forced to dig deep before seeing off the brave Carlow challenge in a cracking All-Ireland qualifier at Netwatch Cullen Park.
Corner-back Fintan Kelly was the hero for a relieved Monaghan side when he found the net four minutes from time to kill off Carlow’s wonderful summer.
For long periods it looked like Carlow, hoping to win four championship matches in a season for the first time since 1944, would pull off a major shock.
Monaghan opted for wind advantage when they won the toss but they shot eight wides to Carlow’s four in the opening half.
An early dust-up involving several players from both sides set the tone for a tough championship encounter where both teams kept a multitude of players behind the ball.
The big home following had plenty to cheer about when Paul Broderick edged them in front with a free into the wind from 35 metres after three minutes.
Conor McManus settled Monaghan with a seventh minute free before Kieran Hughes got the first of two opening half points.
But Carlow were clearly up for the battle with Sean Murphy, Gary Kelly, Eoghan Ruth, Brendan Murphy and Broderick impressing.
Another Broderick free tied the game after 19 minutes and when McManus levelled, Murphy responded for Carlow after some superb passing when they broke from deep after Kelly had intercepted.
Monaghan’s shooting was dreadful as they hit wide after wide but they led by 0-5 to 0-3 at the interval after another McManus free and second point from Kieran Hughes.
However, his brother Darren Hughes was black-carded just before the break for apparently abusing a linesman.
Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke was clearly irate with the decision. He drafted in Dessie Mone as a replacement, reversing a pre-match change.
Carlow should have struck a major blow when another intercept produced a good counter-attack but Sean Gannon blazed wide from a good goal opportunity.
Carlow needed a big start to the second-half and they got it. Broderick kicked a superb free from 55 metres on the left wing three minutes after the restart.
And the home support in the crowd of 6,124 sensed a shock when Murphy levelled the match with a brilliant point from the right two minutes later to leave it 0-5 apiece.
Shane Carey responded with a good point for Monaghan but then Carlow hit the front when Gary Kelly blasted to the end after a free from Darragh Foley dropped short and fell kindly for him.
That made it 1-5 to 0-6 after 49 minutes but Conor McCarthy responded with a free almost immediately for Monaghan.
Another Broderick free gave Carlow hope but then Monaghan, dominating a crowded middle sector, took over with McCarthy getting his second before goalkeeper Rory Beggan came forward to point a free to level the match with ten minutes left.
Ryan McAnespie edged the Farney County in front five minutes from time before the key score came when Kelly finished to the net with a fisted effort after good work by Karl O’Connell and Dermot Malone.
Broderick reduced the gap to a goal going into stoppage time but Carlow were unable to snatch an equaliser.
Scorers – Monaghan: K Hughes 0-3, C McManus 0-3 (2f); F Kelly 1-0; C McCarthy 0-2 (1f), R Beggan 0-1 (1f), S Carey 0-1, R McAnespie 0-1. D Maolne 0-1.
Carlow: P Broderick 0-5 (5f), G Kelly 1-0, B Murphy 0-2.
Monaghan: R Beggan; F Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie, S Carey, C Walshe (c), K O’Connell; K Hughes, D Hughes; N McAdam, D Malone, G Doogan; O Duffy, J McCarron, C McManus.
Subs used: D Mone for D Hughes (35+3 black card), C McCarthy for McCarron (45), R McAnespie for Duffy (53), V Corey for McAdam (58), D Ward for Carey (70), K Duffy for Doogan (70+5).
Carlow: R Molloy; C Lawlor, S Redmond, M Rennick; G Kelly, D St Ledger, D Moran; S Murphy, B Murphy; S Gannon, J Murphy, D Foley (c); P Broderick, C Moran, E Ruth.
Subs used: S Clarke for Kelly (62), K Nolan for Moran (62).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath)