Ulster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
DONEGAL 1-11 MONAGHAN 0-14
After a breathless 76 minutes, Conor McManus nailed a late late free to keep alive Monaghan’s hopes of winning back-to-back Ulster SFC titles.
For the second week in a row, a high quality Ulster semi-final finished in a draw and after giving so much at Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday night, it was the result both teams deserved.
Donegal had Martin McElhinney sent off after 55 minutes and they also trailed by two points, but hit back with a brilliant Odhran MacNiallais goal a minute later.
After a few more twists and turns in a gripping finale, Christy Toye’s fisted point in the 75th minute looked to be the winner, but McManus’ eighth point was cheered with relief by the Monaghan fans in the 16,287 crowd.
The game will be played next weekend, with a date and venue still to be confirmed by the Ulster Council, with the Tyrone v Cavan replay going ahead on 3 July.
Karl Lacey, who wasn’t fit to start Donegal’s first round win over Fermanagh, got his team off to a flier with a point after 12 seconds and Michael Murphy put them two up.
Shane Carey instantly responded for Monaghan’s first point of the evening before a Murphy free put Donegal 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after 13 minutes.
Monaghan were slower to settle, but came good mid-way through the opening half and kicked four points in a row in an 11-minute spell.
Monaghan hit seven wides to Donegal’s three in the first half but still led 0-5 to 0-3 after 26 minutes.
But there was never going to be much between these two and after a quiet start, Paddy McBrearty came good with 0-3 in a five-minute spell.
Both defences held firm but when Eamon McGee fouled McCarthy, McManus converted the free to level it 0-6 each at the interval.
Conor McManus pointed from the wing for his first from play and punched the air as he put Monaghan 0-8 to 0-7 ahead.
Michael Murphy missed several frees and Karl O’Connell punished those misses with two long-range points in the 44th and 46th minutes to put three between them for the first time, Monaghan leading 0-10 to 0-7.
Donegal were down to 14 men after 55 minutes when Martin McElhinney picked up a black card for a late hit on Drew Wylie. Having been booked earlier, it meant he was off.
Rory Gallagher’s side hit back immediately with a superb goal from Odhran McNiallais.
Marty O’Reilly hand-passed through a gap and he picked his spot, low to the far corner in the 56th minute.
Colin Walshe was black-carded for dragging down Ryan McHugh and McBrearty landed the free before Eoin McHugh burst through to put Donegal two points up with five minutes to go.
In a gripping finish, six minutes injury-time was signalled and McManus stepped up to bravely land two monster frees to level it with 73 minutes on the clock.
Donegal sub Christy Toye thought he’d won it when he fisted over, but a late hit on Karl O’Connell gave McManus the chance to equalise at the end of a brilliant contest.
Scorers for Donegal: P McBrearty 0-5 (4fs), M Murphy 0-3 (2fs), O MacNiallais 1-0, K Lacey, E McHugh, C Toye 0-1 each.
Scorers for Monaghan: C McManus 0-8 (7fs), K O’Connell 0-2, S Carey, C McCarthy 0-2 (1f), O Duffy 0-1 each.
Donegal: MA McGinley; P McGrath,E McGee, C Gillespie; A Thompson, K Lacey, E McHugh; R Kavanagh, M McElhinny, R McHugh, O MacNiallais, F McGlynn; P McBrearty, M Murphy, M O’Reilly.
Subs: M McHugh for McGlynn (65), C Toye for Kavanagh (67) E Gallagher for O’Reilly (70).
Monaghan: R Beggan; C Walshe, D Wylie, R Wylie; F Kelly, V Corey, K Duffy; K O’Connell, D Hughes; S Carey, O Duffy, R McAnespie; C McCarthy, K Hughes, C McManus.
Subs: D Mone for D Wylie (58), D McKenna for McCarthy (58), C Boyle for Walshe (61,BC) J McCarron for Carey (65), D Clerkin for McAnespie (71).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).