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Dublin: 9°C Monday 12 April 2021

McManus rescues Monaghan against Donegal to deliver Ulster semi-final replay

The Monaghan captain hit 0-8 for the Ulster champions.

Conor McManus hit 0-8 for Monaghan tonight.
Conor McManus hit 0-8 for Monaghan tonight.
Image: Andrew Paton/INPHO

Donegal 1-11
Monaghan 0-14

THEY HAVE GROWN familiar with each other after contesting the last three Ulster senior football finals, and now Donegal and Monaghan must meet again after they could not be separated in tonight’s provincial semi-final clash in Kingspan Breffni Park.

A second-half goal from Odhran MacNiallais – his third in two games – looked like the critical strike that would propel Donegal to victory and defeat the reigning Ulster champions.

But Conor McManus showed his leadership and class with a series of vital late frees to draw Monaghan back into it.

And even after Donegal substitute Christy Toye fisted over a 74th minute point to edge Rory Gallagher’s men into a narrow lead, Monaghan regrouped with man-of-the-match Karl O’Connell winning the last-gasp free that McManus pointed to send this contest to a replay.

16,287 fans were in attendance for a thrilling clash that failed to produce a winner to contest the final on 17 July. With Tyrone and Cavan also having drawn in the other semi-final last Sunday, it creates the prospect of a series of fascinating Ulster showdowns during the month of July.

Donegal and Monaghan players have a scuffle A clash between Donegal and Monaghan players Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

Without the suspended Neil McGee, Donegal still flew out of the traps to go in front 0-3 to 0-1 by the 13th minute. Yet Monaghan rallied to string together four points without reply and gain some serious momentum by the 26th minute.

Still Donegal responded with three points in succession and yet the game was deadlocked at the interval thanks to a McManus free.

It looked like Monaghan had made a formidable burst in the second-half with a brace of well-taken points by O’Connell leaving them 0-10 to 0-7 in front in the 47th minute.

Donegal were severely hampered by poor shooting but they struck a vital score that mattered in the 57th minute when Odhran MacNiallais rolled his shot to the net.

The form of Donegal in the finale was all the more impressive given they had been reduced to 14 men with Martin McElhinney being sent-off in the 53rd minute, shown a black card after already being on a yellow card.

Michael Murphy and Vinny Corey Donegal's Michael Murphy and Vinny Corey of Monaghan Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

Donegal’s character was tremendous and they fashioned telling scores, including a superb Eoin McHugh point in the 63rd minute that put them ahead 1-10 to 0-11.

Monaghan steadied themselves with McManus striking over magnificent frees in the 72nd and 73rd minutes to tie the teams.

Then Toye looked like the match winner before McManus intervened to ensure they will have to do it all over again.

Scorers for Donegal: Patrick McBrearty 0-5 (0-3f), Michael Murphy 0-3 (0-2f), Odhran MacNiallais 1-0, Eoin McHugh, Christy Toye, Karl Lacey 0-1 each.

Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus 0-8 (0-7f), Karl O’Connell, Conor McCarthy (0-1f) 0-2 each, Shane Carey, Owen Duffy 0-1 each.


1. Mark Anthony McGinley (St Michael’s)

2. Paddy McGrath (Ardara)
3. Ciaran Gillespie (Gaoth Dobhair)
4. Eamonn McGee (Gaoth Dobhair)

5. Ryan McHugh (Kilcar)
6. Karl Lacey (St Eunan’s)
7. Frank McGlynn (Glenfin)

8. Rory Kavanagh (St Eunan’s)
9. Odhrán Mac Niallais (Gaoth Dobhair)

10. Anthony Thompson (Naomh Conaill)
11. Martin McElhinney (St Michael’s)
12. Eoin McHugh (Kilcar)

13. Patrick McBrearty (Kilcar)
14. Michael Murphy (Glenswilly – captain)
15. Martin O’Reilly (Sean Mac Cumhaill)

Mark McHugh (Kilcar) for McGlynn (65)
Christy Toye (St Michael’s) for Kavanagh (68)


1. Rory Beggan (Scotstown)

2. Colin Walshe (Doohamlet)
3. Drew Wylie (Ballybay)
4. Ryan Wylie (Ballybay)

18. Fintan Kelly (Clones)
6. Vinny Corey (Clontibret)
7. Kieran Duffy (Latton)

8. Karl O’Connell (Tyholland)
9. Kieran Hughes (Scotstown)

10. Shane Carey (Scotstown)
24. Owen Duffy (Latton)
12. Ryan McAnespie (Emyvale)

13. Conor McCarthy (Scotstown)
14. Darren Hughes (Scotstown)
15. Conor McManus (Clontibret – captain)

Dessie Mone (Clontibret) for Wylie (58)
Daniel McKenna (Truagh Gaels) for McCarthy (58)
Conor Boyle (Clontibret) for Walshe (black card) (61)
Jack McCarron (Currin) for Carey (64)
Dick Clerkin (Currin) for McAnespie (71)

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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