Ulster GAA Football Championship Semi-Final:
Monaghan 1-10 Cavan 0-12
Monaghan will play Donegal in the Ulster Football Championship final on July 21, after defeating Cavan by a point in a dour game in Clones on Saturday evening.
Conor McManus was outstanding in the second half, and it was his attacking brilliance which ultimately won the game for Monaghan. With space at a serious premium in a game dominated by packed defences, McManus made the most of whatever scoring chances came his way. He hit 0-6, three of which came from play, and his tally included a couple of really key scores in the second 35 minutes.
The sides were level at the break, but Cavan probably should have been leading at the interval, having had the better of the first half. The second-half proved to be a low-scoring affair, as Monaghan hit five points after the restart to just four from Cavan.
It looked like the game might finish in a draw, as the sides were level with 10 minutes to go, but McManus had just enough quality to find the space at the key times, and he kicked a brilliant score from the right wing on 63 minutes to edge Monaghan ahead.
Cavan didn’t score from play in the second half, and when Paul Finlay tapped over a free towards the end, it left two between the sides. Cavan forced a tight finish when Cavan goalkeeper Conor Gilsenan drilled over a ’45 in injury-time, but Monaghan held on in the end.
The game began in cagey, defensive fashion, in a similar vein to the previous championship games the two teams have already played this summer.
The closest either side came to a score in the opening eight minutes was when Christopher McGuinness’ scrambled effort looked to have crossed the line for a goal, but was cleared right on the line by Cavan defender Alan Clarke, who appeared to have forced the ball away with his hand.
Once the game got going in an attacking sense, Cavan had the better of it for much of the half, and took the lead when Eugene Keating and David Givney hit two fine points from play. However, Monaghan got off the mark on 13 minutes, when they hit the net.
It came about from a short kick-out attempted by Cavan goalkeeper Gilsenan. His kick was intercepted down the middle by Monaghan, and McGuinness suddenly found himself clean through on goal. He kept his cool, and cracked the ball past Gilsenan and into the net.
Cavan responded well after the goal though, and were 0-6 to 1-1 ahead after 25 minutes, with Givney, Cian Mackey and Niall McDermott all kicking superb long-range points for the Breifne men. Monaghan were slowly finding their way into the game though, and a couple of McManus frees drew the sides level at 0-7 to 1-4 after 33 minutes.
Cavan edged ahead again when Dunne fired over after a clever lay-off from Givney, but Monaghan ended the half with a brilliant individual score from Darren Hughes, and went in level.
The second-half began in a very similar fashion to the first, with defences on top and space at a premium, and it took 13 minutes for a score to be registered, with McManus’ superb effort from the right putting Monaghan ahead on 48 minutes.
The lead changed hands a couple of times over the course of the second half, and with 60 minutes gone the sides were level, following a free from Dunne. However, McManus clipped over his sixth point from a tight angle on the wing with seven minutes to go, and once Finlay’s free went over a few minutes after, Monaghan had done just enough to progress.
Scorers for Cavan: M Dunne 0-3 (2f), N McDermott 0-3 (2f), D Givney 0-2, E Keating 0-1, C Mackey 0-1, J McEnroe 0-1, C Gilsenan 0-1 (1 ’45)
Scorers for Monaghan: C McManus 0-6 (3f), C McGuinness 1-0, P Finlay 0-2 (2f), K Hughes 0-1, D Hughes 0-1
Cavan: C Gilsenan; J McLoughlin, R Dunne, K Clarke; J McEnroe, A Clarke, R Flanagan; D O’Reilly, D Givney; C Mackey, K Brady, F Flanagan; N McDermott, M Dunne, E Keating. Subs: M Reilly for K Brady (48), T Corr for J McEnroe (60), J Brady for N McDermott (71), K Tierney for M Dunne (71).
Monaghan: R Beggan; D Mone, D Wylie, C Walshe; V Corey, N McAdam, K Duffy; O Lennon, D Hughes; S Gollogly, G Doogan, T Freeman ; C McGuinness, K Hughes, C McManus. Subs: P Finlay for T Freeman (44), D Clerkin for G Doogan (51), K O’Connell for N MacAdam (59), P Donaghy for C McGuinness (65), D Malone for S Gollogly (70).
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)