Monaghan get into rhythm as Collins closes in on big time
Monaghan United 2
Galway United 0
Roddy Collins' journey down the road to managerial redemption gathered pace last night in Gortakeegan when his Monaghan United side secured a first-leg lead to defend in Galway on Friday.
With promotion the prize for the winners, Monaghan have one foot in the Premier Division, and should they close the deal then Collins, handed the reins with the border club in February, will be perceived in a new light.
Branded a pariah following unsuccessful stints with Carlisle United, the now defunct Dublin City and Shamrock Rovers, plenty wondered if he would ever manage at the top level again.
Yet no one can doubt the quality of the job he has done with Monaghan. Collins has also imposed a spirit and organisation into this side.
Working off a 4-4-2 shape, Collins encourages his full-backs to press forward, conscious that the quality of their touch and blistering pace can unsettle any team.
And it unsettled Galway early on, particularly when Shane Grimes played in Jordan Keegan on the left, giving the winger the time and space to pick out Michael Isichei at the back post, from where he scored.
Ahead, Monaghan settled into a rhythm where pass and move became their default setting. In response, Alan Murphy tried a number of long-range shots, none of which found the target.
Nor for that matter did Sean Brennan or Declan O'Brien's efforts for Monaghan. But late on, Brennan made amends, scoring five minutes from time, and five minutes after Eric Foley and Sean Gavin had been dismissed for an off-the-ball clash.
Monaghan United -- Sava; Whelan, Collins, Byrne, Grimes; Isichei (Paul Byrne 64, McDonagh 85), Foley, R Brennan, Keegan (Marks 88); O'Brien, S Brennan
Galway United -- Winn; Sinnott, Som, Gaughan, Kelly; Gu Kim (Gavin HT), Ryan, Murphy, Sibanda (Silvera 76); Gilmour, Cauldwell (Walsh 89)
Ref -- D Tomney (Dublin)