Monaghan's miserly defence to the fore as Kildare suffer second successive defeat
Monaghan 1-10 Kildare 0-12
Monaghan survived a late onslaught from Kildare to claim a very valuable pair of Allianz Division One league points in St Conleth's Park, Newbridge.
It took all of Monaghan's defensive craft, built up over three years of top flight league football, to withstand the home side who threw everything at it in a full-blooded second half.
Monaghan and Kildare were among the favourites for the drop in a highly competitive division but this win will give them a real lifeline and plunge Kildare into early trouble.
Monaghan led by four points, 1-6 to 0-5 at the break, but Kildare restarted impressively and within three minutes had closed to within just a point.
Ben McCormack made a real impact with two of those points, bringing his afternoon tally to three but he was withdrawn in the 50th minute after taking a heavy challenge, symptomatic of a very physical game.
Conor Boyle, Fintan Kelly and especially the flying Karl O'Connell were supreme in defence for the visitors who introduced Conor McManus to make an immediate impact, winning a free which he scored himself on 55 minutes.
The decisive strike in the first half was Conor McCarthy's first half goal, exploiting some hesitancy in the Kildare defence to run on to Dessie Ward's pass over the top and finishing low and in style with his right foot for a 1-5 to 0-5 lead on 29 minutes.
Prior to that it had been a cagey game of counterattacking. Monaghan had led by 0-3 to 0-1 at one stage as Kildare suffered from three missed Kevin Feely frees from the hand.
But Feely eventually found his range and Paul Cribbin chipped in with three points from relatively long range to keep the home side in touch.
But they found it tougher going against Monaghan's defensive numbers and eventually it told.
Inexplicably, Cribbin picked up a black card for taking down Darren Hughes with a tackle more synonymous with the Stade de France the previous day. Hughes presented no threat as he went to go by Kildare's influential half-forward.
Fergal Conway was also black-carded in the second half while Jack McCarron walked for Monaghan who held their nerve impressively in a tight finish.
Scorers - Monaghan: C McCarthy 1-1 (0-1f), J McCarron, D Ward (1f) 0-2 each, N Kearns (f), C McManus (f), K Duffy, D Hughes, R Beggan (f) all 0-1 each.
Kildare: K Feely (3fs), B McCormack, P Cribbin all 0-3 each, N Kelly 0-2, P Brophy 0-1.
Monaghan: R Beggan; K Duffy, C Boyle, B Kerr; N McAdam, P McGuirk, K O'Connell; D Hughes, N Kearns; D Ward, D Malone, F Kelly; C McCarthy, J McCarron, D Garland. Subs: C Walshe for McGuirk (18), J Wilson for Garland (h-t), C McManus for Malone (54), D Freeman for Wilson (61), O Duffy for McCarron BC (65),
Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland, M O'Grady; J Byrne, E Doyle, C O'Donoghue; K Feely, L Flynn; F Conway, C Healy, P Cribbin; B McCormack, D Flynn, C McNally. Subs: D Slattery for Cribbin BC (35), N Kelly for McNally (h-t), M Hyland for O'Grady inj (46), P Brophy for McCormack inj (50), E Callaghan for Conway BC (55), J Hyland for Healy (66)
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)
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