Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

Ulster SFC: Derry power past Monaghan

May 1st, 2023

Ulster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final



Derry moved to within one win of a second consecutive Ulster SFC title when they powered past Monaghan in front of over 13,000 spectators in Omagh.

A clinical first-half performance set down a marker that Derry weren’t going to be denied a fifth straight win in the provincial series, as they kicked 1-14 from their first 18 shots to take a firm grip on the game.

Shane McGuigan led a list of ten marksmen for Derry, who saw the likes of Pádraig McGrogan, Ethan Doherty and goal-scorer Conor McCluskey arrive from deep to punch holes in the Monaghan defence. Rory Gallagher’s side have now hit 4-28 in two championship games and on this form, they will be hard to stop from retaining the Anglo-Celt Cup. A handful of incisive runs by Karl O’Connell, who was his side’s top scorer with 1-1, were the highlights for Monaghan, who were unable to reproduce the second-half revival that had seen them edge past Tyrone in the previous round.

Derry made their customary bright start, with Conor Glass, Paul Cassidy, Shane McGuigan and Pádraig McGrogan all getting their names on the scoresheet within ten minutes. Monaghan struggled to make inroads at the other end in the opening exchanges, leaving them to rely on a pair of long-range frees by Rory Beggan to get them off the mark. Cassidy and Ethan Doherty had Derry four clear midway through the half and although a trademark burst by Karl O’Connell saw him slide home the opening goal, the holders quickly replied through Niall Toner and McGuigan.

O’Connell chipped over after another pacy run, but Derry hit back with a third point from McGuigan and a goal by Conor McCluskey to make it 1-9 to 1-3. A couple of Conor McManus frees were all Monaghan could muster in reply, while McGuigan and Conor Doherty kept Derry well ahead. They finished the half with a flourish as Odhrán Lynch strode forward to kick his second point from play in as many games to establish a 1-12 to 1-5 lead.

Monaghan needed a lightning start to the second half, but instead it was Derry who picked off a couple of early points through McGuigan and McGrogan. Monaghan got a badly-needed boost when a goalmouth scramble ended with Karl Gallagher finding the net. Derry were once again able to take the sting out of any potential comeback, however, with McGuigan adding three points inside the final quarter to take his tally to 0-9. Kieran Hughes, Conor Boyle, Mícheál Bannigan and Stephen O’Hanlon all added their names to the list of scorers for Monaghan, but it was academic by then and Derry hit their 22nd score of the game in added time after a surging run by the tireless Brendan Rodgers.

Scorers for Derry: Shane McGuigan 0-9 (5f); Conor McCluskey 1-0; Conor Glass 0-2; Paul Cassidy 0-2; Pádraig McGrogan 0-2; Ethan Doherty 0-2; Niall Toner 0-1f; Conor Doherty 0-1; Brendan Rodgers 0-1; Odhrán Lynch 0-1.

Scorers for Monaghan: Karl O’Connell 1-1; Karl Gallagher 1-0; Conor McManus 0-3f; Rory Beggan 0-2f; Mícheál Bannigan 0-1; Stephen O’Hanlon 0-1; Kieran Hughes 0-1; Conor Boyle 0-1.

Derry: Odhrán Lynch; Chrissy McKaigue, Conor McCluskey; Conor Doherty; Pádraig McGrogan, Pádraig Cassidy, Eoin McEvoy; Conor Glass (Capt.), Brendan Rogers; Paul Cassidy, Gareth McKinless, Ethan Doherty; Niall Toner, Shane McGuigan, Niall Loughlin.

Subs: Benny Heron for Pádraig Cassidy (50); Ciarán McFaul for Loughlin (58); Ben McCarron for McGrogan (65); Paul McNeill for McKaigue (68); Lachlan Murray for Toner (72).

Temporary sub: Benny Heron for McKinless (34-H-T).

Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Conor Boyle, Kieran Duffy (Capt.), Ryan Wylie; Ryan O’Toole, Karl O’Connell, Conor McCarthy; Darren Hughes, Killian Lavelle; Karl Gallagher, Mícheál Bannigan, Dessie Ward; Stephen O’Hanlon; Jack McCarron, Conor McManus.

Subs: Shane Carey for McCarron, Kieran Hughes for D Hughes (inj.) (both 30); Gary Mohan for Ward (43); Conor Leonard for Gallagher (62); Seán Jones for Wylie (65)

Referee: Seán Hurson (Tyrone).

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