Tuesday 24 April 2018

O'Brien on the double to end Monaghan's top-flight exile

Galway United 1 Monaghan United 3

(monaghan win 5-1 on aggregate)

Monaghan United ended their 10-year absence from the top flight of Irish football in style last night to spoil the presidential party of the home side.

Roddy Collins' side took a two-goal lead into last night's second leg of the promotion/relegation play-off, and they added three more goals in a clinical display to emphatically clinch promotion.

Collins promised his side wouldn't park the bus in Terryland Park, and he was true to his word as the visitors started the brighter, twice testing Conor Winn in the Tribesmen's goal in the opening 10 minutes.

The home side -- playing in front of President-Elect Michael D Higgins, who has been club president at United for the past six years -- struggled in the early stages, their play betraying a sense of panic at times.

The improbable became the impossible in the 26th minute when the visitors took the lead.

John Reilly threaded a ball between two defenders for Fabio O'Brien to run on to, and he fired past Winn from 20 yards.

The United midfield was pulled all over the pitch by Keith Quinn and Ryan Brennan, with their left flank looking vulnerable.

It was no surprise when Monaghan exploited this frailty again in the 33rd minute.

This time it was Ryan Brennan who did the damage, passing Stephen Walsh before squaring for O'Brien, who fired home from six yards.

The visitors added a third six minutes after the restart, catching the home side on the break through Sean Brennan, and he squared for brother Ryan to lift the ball over the advancing Winn from 15 yards.

Alan Murphy got on the scoresheet eight minutes from time to prompt a defiant roar from the home fans, but the Tribesmen now head into a long winter of uncertainty.

Galway United -- Winn; Sinnott, Son, Gaughan, Walsh; Caldwell (Duggan 58), G Kelly, Browne (S Kelly 58), Gilmore; Murphy, Ryan (Gartlan 74).

Monaghan United -- Sava; Whelan, Collins (P Byrne 57), A Byrne, Grimes; Reilly, Quinn, R Brennan (McDonagh 57), Keegan (D Byrne 57); O'Brien, S Brennan.

Ref -- Padraig Sutton (Clare).

Irish Independent

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