Thursday 19 April 2018

Walshe strikes late to keep Monaghan in top flight

Monaghan 1-10 Donegal 1-9

Conor McCarthy, Monaghan, in action against Neil McGee, Donegal. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor McCarthy, Monaghan, in action against Neil McGee, Donegal. Photo: Sportsfile
Fintan Kelly, Monaghan, contests a high ball against Odhrán Mac Niallais, Donegal. Photo: Sportsfile

Chris McNulty

Malachy O'Rourke had no nerves when defender Colin Walshe swung his boot at a late chance that won this game for Monaghan - and kept them in Division 1.

Monaghan came from seven points behind to claim a win that preserves their top-flight status and for Donegal, it's a place in the League semi-finals despite losing four-in-a-row.

With Cork losing to Kerry, Monaghan's survival was secured when corner-back Walshe put Monaghan ahead for the first time, three minutes into added time at the end. "Never doubted him for a minute," said O'Rourke.

"He had the composure then to take the score. It was a great way to finish and a great boost for us.

"We played some good football and controlled a lot of the game. I think we deserved our victory."

Yet, they trailed by seven points as Martin McElhinney's 20th-minute goal put Donegal 1-4 to no score in front. McElhinney worked the chance with Leo McLoone and powered past Rory Beggan.

Tonic At that stage, Monaghan were in need of a tonic, but they got it. From Beggan's kick-out after McElhinney's goal, Dermot Malone and Neil McAdam made hay and Daniel McKenna, after being denied first time by Mark Anthony McGinley, smashed home the rebound.

Kieran Hughes was denied a second goal by McGinley, who turned over his blistering drive and Monaghan were only three in arrears at the break.

Donegal scored just two points and Monaghan inched their way back.

Donegal were still three up, 1-9 to 1-6, with 15 minutes to go, but Rory Gallagher's men wilted in the final quarter.

Conor McManus levelled it with two frees after Ryan McAnespie neatly pointed. Kieran Hughes thought he'd won it, only for the umpire to wave his free wide, but Walshe had the winning of it - to keep up Monaghan's great record against Donegal.

"I suppose they were up for the game and that makes it all the sweeter," O'Rourke said.

Donegal haven't won since beating Mayo at the end of February - but will take on Dublin in a semi-final next weekend.

Scorers - Monaghan: C McManus 0-6 (5f), D McKenna 1-1, C Walshe, D Hughes, R McAnespie 0-1 each. Donegal: M Murphy 0-4 (3f, 1 '45), M McElhinney 1-0, P McBrearty 0-2 (1f), E McHugh, O Mac Niallais, A Thompson 0-1 each.

Monaghan - R Beggan 6; R Wylie 6, C Walshe 7, D Wylie 7; D Mone 6, K O'Connell 7, F Kelly 7; V Corey 6, N McAdam 7; K Hughes 6, D Malone 6, R McAnespie 7; D Hughes 7, D McKenna 7, C McManus 7. Subs: T Kerr 7 for Mone (47), O Duffy 6 for Malone (53), C McCarthy 6 for McKenna (59).

Donegal - MA McGinley 6; P McGrath 7, N McGee 6, A Thompson 6; R McHugh 7, F McGlynn 6, H McFadden 6; R Kavanagh 6, M Murphy 7; O Mac Niallais 7, L McLoone 7, E McHugh 6; M McElhinney 7, P McBrearty 6, M O'Reilly 6. Subs: C McFadden 6 for E McHugh (53), E McGee 6 for O'Reilly (59), C Toye 6 for McLoone (64), S McBrearty 5 for McElhinney (66), E Doherty 5 for N McGee (BC, 69), M McHugh 5 for H McFadden (BC, 74).

Ref - R Hickey (Clare)

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