THEY FINISHED WITH 14 men but Monaghan still claimed a valuable opening victory away from home over Mayo in the Allianz Division 1 football league tonight in Castlebar.
Despite Karl O’Connell dismissed ten minutes from time after being booked twice, Monaghan battled on successfully at Elverys MacHale Park with Conor McManus striking a glorious insurance point from the wing in injury-time to ensure they held a two-point cushion at the final whistle.
McManus was the creator of the key score in the game that was a setback on the scoreboard which Mayo could never recover from.
In the 37th minute McManus gathered a fine delivery from Thomas Kerr and after out-fielding Keith Higgins, he found Darren Hughes charging through alongside him with the Scotstown man taking the pass and booting the ball to the Mayo net.
It was the only goal of the game and came after Mayo had finished the first half strongly to go in front 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval.
But the Connacht outfit could never draw level after the concession of that goal to Hughes despite captain Cillian O’Connor doing his best to inspire them as he finished with 0-7 to his credit.
Monaghan had accelerated into a 0-5 to 0-1 advantage after 20 minutes with McManus displaying his prowess from dead balls as he amassed four points.
Yet despite those struggles, Mayo responded with five unanswered points before the interval courtesy of Evan Regan (2), O’Connor, Kevin McLoughlin and Alan Freeman.
Stephen Rochford’s side went in at the break in front but were then hit by the concession of that Hughes goal. Monaghan’s accuracy greatly improved in front of goal and they hit some excellent second-half points from McManus, Colin Walshe and Thomas Kerr.
By the midway point of the second half, Monaghan were in front 1-9 to 0-8 and in a strong position.
Yet they came under severe pressure from a Mayo team who sprung familiar faces like Diarmuid O’Connor, Tom Parsons and Andy Moran off the bench in the second half.
Cillian O’Connor notched four points in the remainder of the game yet even though O’Connell was dismissed, Monaghan registered crucial points with Gavin Doogan and McManus on target to ensure they triumphed.
Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus 0-6 (0-3f, 0-1 ’45), Darren Hughes 1-1, Rory Beggan (0-1f), Colin Walshe, Gavin Doogan, Thomas Kerr 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-7 (0-5f), Evan Regan 0-2 (0-1f), Fergal Boland, Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Freeman 0-1 each.
1. Rory Beggan (Scotstown)
2. Fintan Kelly (Clones)
3. Drew Wylie (Ballybay)
4. Ryan Wylie (Ballybay)
5. Colin Walshe (Doohamlet)
6. Neil McAdam (Monaghan Harps)
7. Kieran Duffy (Latton)
8. Darren Hughes (Scotstown)
9. Kieran Hughes (Scotstown)
10. Karl O’Connell (Tyholland)
11. Shane Carey (Scotstown)
12. Gavin Doogan (Magheracloone)
13. Conor McCarthy (Scotstown)
14. Thomas Kerr (Ballybay)
15. Conor McManus (Clontibret)
22. Dermot Malone (Castleblayney) for McCarthy (half-time)
24. Ryan McAnespie (Emyvale) for Carey (51)
23. Owen Duffy (Latton) for Kerr (58)
17. James Mealiff (Clones) for McAdam (66)
1. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)
2. Donie Newcombe (Castlebar Mitchels)
3. Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis)
4. Paddy Durcan(Castlebar Mitchels)
5. Colm Boyle (Davitts)
6. Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore)
7. David Drake (Ballaghaderreen)
8. Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe)
9. Danny Kirby (Castlebar Mitchels)
10. Fergal Boland (Aghamore)
11. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
12. Jason Doherty (Burrishoole)
13. Evan Regan (Ballina Stephenites)
14. Alan Freeman (Aghamore)
15. Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber, Capt)
Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber) for Regan (48)
Tom Parsons (Charlestown) for Kirby (52)
Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen) for Freeman (55)}
Conor O’Shea (Breaffy ) for Doherty (66)
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)
In tonight’s other games, Fermanagh cruised to a 1-16 to 0-10 victory over Down in Division 2 in Newry.
Tomas Corrigan was their top scorer with 0-8 while Eoin McManus netted for Pete McGrath’s side.
In Division 3, Louth stormed to a 2-16 to 0-10 success over Laois with Paraic Smith and Andy McDonnell both netting for the Wee County.
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