Dublin 1-15 Monaghan 1-15
Even against a team of Dublin’s stature, this is a match Monaghan should have won and in the process achieved the distinction of three League wins on the bounce over the All-Ireland champions. Ten points up in the first half, and six clear entering injury-time at the end of the second, they simply needed to avoid conceding a goal.
All evening, in the driving wind and rain, Monaghan looked the more keen and industrious. Their defending was impeccable and disciplined.
Not a sniff of a goal chance had come Dublin’s way. And then a scuffed point attempt by Kevin McManamon was inexplicably allowed bounce near their goal and Seán Bugler poked it back into the unmarked McManamon’s path. The net and Kevin are well acquainted; he didn’t need a second invitation.
With six minutes of injury-time announced there was plenty of time and momentum with Dublin, and they were afforded almost another four minutes along with that by referee Ciarán Brannigan. Bugler kicked two points and in the 79th minute Davy Byrne came up and drove a left-footed equaliser into the hardliners on the Hill who were now singing in the rain.
For long stretches they were muted as their side played second fiddle to a county competing for the sixth successive season in Division 1. Playing with the wind in the first half they were boosted by a goal inside the first minute, when Ryan McAnespie’s long ball was taken by Conor McManus, who eluded Mick Fitzsimons before stroking it under Evan Comerford.
Dublin looked strangely lethargic, dragging their heels as if drained of energy. Monaghan found thin air where they expected hard challenges. The gaps were manifold and Monaghan started stacking up the scores, leading 1-9 to 0-3 by half-time.
Dublin started Dara Mullin for the first time but he saw little ball and Paddy Andrews went off injured in the first half. Their attack had no teeth. Three times scoring efforts dropped short. But Monaghan defended exceptionally well.
Micheal Bannigan scored two early points, fresh from his Sigerson Cup success with DCU, and McManus scored a beauty with his right foot. Ultimately, they would pay the price for not being more ruthless, hitting eight first-half wides. Just before half-time they should have had a goal but McAnespie was denied by Comerford.
“It’s a big performance to come here and play the five-time All-Ireland champions,” stated Seamus McEnaney, the Monaghan manager. “They got a bit of a run on us in the second half, the goal was a crucial score. We’d be disappointed with that goal and listen, we’re disappointed we didn’t get the two points.”
Their first-half misses included a free from well within McManus’ range. “We only had a 53 per cent shot ratio to scores and that was the most disappointing thing,” McEnaney confirmed.
Dublin noticeably improved after the break and suddenly Monaghan were pressed on the ball and turned it over. In the opening five minutes three scores had the margin down to six, with a half hour of normal time left.
But Monaghan dug in and Rory Beggan finished up with three points from placed balls, including a beast of a kick into the wind in the second half from 65 metres.
“Rory’s capable of kicking a free like that every day,” said McEnaney, “with the breeze or into the breeze.”
The decision to play almost four minutes over the additional six drew a slightly cryptic response.
“Listen, there was six minutes on the clock. There was nine minutes played. I’ve enough problems of my own to sort out without worrying about the problems that Ciarán Branagan had.”
Just before the interval Monaghan lost Darren Hughes to the sin-bin and after half-time they looked in bother when scores from Dean Rock and Ciarán Kilkenny rewarded greater Dublin application and work-rate. Beggan’s monster kick stemmed the tide 15 minutes into the half and from there to the hour mark they managed to restore their nine-point advantage, with three scores from McManus, and one from Beggan, leaving them 1-11 to 0-8 up.
They scored just one more point to Dublin’s 1-7 over the remainder, including almost 10 minutes of additional time.
Bugler made a serious impression in the time he was on the field, scoring 0-3, yet Conor Boyle’s fine effort from an acute angle still had the visitors seven points up with two minutes left. But Dublin can never be discounted. Sub Colm Basquel pointed in the last minute and then McManamon’s goal made the comeback feasible.
Dessie Farrell was at a loss to explain his team’s early inertia.
“It seemed that we lacked the intensity that was required, slow out of the traps. They were going at it hard, and we struggled to compete. They overran us, and they were up for it and wanted it more.”
He described Saturday evening as a “baptism of fire” for some of his younger players given the conditions and a “very physical, well-drilled and well-organised Monaghan team”.
But this is where you learn, where you sink or swim.
SCORERS – Dublin: D Rock 0-6 (4f), S Bugler 0-3,
K McManamon 1-0, C Kilkenny, D O’Brien, N Scully,
J McCarthy, C Basquel, D Byrne 0-1 each. Monaghan:
C McManus 1-4 (0-2f, 0-1m), R Beggan 0-3 (2f, 1 ‘45’),
M Bannigan, R McAnespie (1m) 0-2 each, N Kearns, D Ward,
C McCarthy, C Boyle 0-1 each.
DUBLIN – E Comerford 7; M Fitzsimons 6, D Byrne 7,
L Flatman 6; J McCarthy 8, J Small 7, E Murchan 7; B Howard 7, B Fenton 7; N Scully 7, C Kilkenny 7, D O’Brien 6; D Mullin 5, P Andrews 6, D Rock 7. Subs: A Byrne 6 for Andrews (inj, 12), P Mannion 7 for Mullin (h/t), S Bugler 9 for Flatman (41),
C Basquel 7 for O’Brien (52), K McManamon 8 for A Byrne (59).
MONAGHAN – R Beggan 9; D Wylie 7, C Boyle 8, K Duffy 7;
R Wylie 8, R McAnespie 8, K O’Connell 7; D Hughes (sb 35) 7,
N Kearns 7; D Ward 7, M Bannigan 7, C McCarthy 7; D Malone 7, K Hughes 6, C McManus 8. Subs: A Mulligan 7 for Bannigan (48), S Carey 6 for K Hughes (60), C McGuinness 6 for McCarthy (65), P Keenan 6 for Ward (73), K Hughes 6 for Kearns (73).
REF – C Brannigan (Down).