Conor Francis, Down, and Gary Mohan, Monaghan, in Ulster SFC action.
Conor Francis, Down, and Gary Mohan, Monaghan, in Ulster SFC action.

Ulster SFC: Monaghan defeat Down

Ulster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final

Monaghan 0-23 Down 2-7

By Colm Shalvey at St Tiernach's Park

Ulster Championship games don’t always follow the script – and neither do games between Monaghan and Down – but this quarter-final went pretty much as expected, with the home side cruising through in Clones.

Goals either side of the half-time break by Caolán Mooney and Pat Havern threatened to make a contest out of it, but Monaghan regained their composure to outscore Down by 11 points to three thereafter. Monaghan’s dominance was underlined by the fact that their three full-backs – Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle and Ryan Wylie – were all among their 11 scorers in difficult conditions. Following their relegation to Division Three of the league, Down are now bound for the inaugural Tailteann Cup.

The first half largely followed the pre-match expectations, with a more assured Monaghan team taking control, without having to be at their best. Points by Rory Beggan, Jack McCarron and Kieran Hughes had the hosts four clear before Down eventually opened their account with a 15th-minute score by Pat Havern.

A purple patch by Monaghan saw McCarron, Conor McManus, Gary Mohan, Andrew Woods and Beggan stretch their lead to eight. A free by Andrew Gilmore ended that scoring streak, but Monaghan moved nine clear at one stage, until a Conor Poland point and a goal against the run of play by Caolán Mooney gave Down some hope.

Trailing by 0-12 to 1-4 at the break, the Mourne men began the second half with renewed purpose; Havern firing to the net within seconds to make it a two-point game. Monaghan responded well, however, with Mohan, Conor McCarthy, McCarron and McManus all on target. McCarron, fresh from his starring role against Dublin at the same venue last month, finished with 0-7 to his name as Monaghan dominated the final quarter.

Down’s only two scores of the last half-hour, including added time, were from a ’45 by Barry O’Hagan and a close-range free by substitute Tiarnán Rushe, who was sent off for a second booking late on. Points by Boyle, Shane Carey and McCarron continued the one-way traffic as Monaghan advanced to a provincial semi-final against the winners of tomorrow’s derby between Tyrone and Derry.

Scorers for Monaghan: Jack McCarron 0-7 (2f, 1m); Conor McManus 0-4 (3f); Gary Mohan 0-3 (2m); Rory Beggan 0-2 (1f, 1 ’45); Kieran Duffy 0-1; Conor Boyle 0-1; Ryan Wylie 0-1; Andrew Woods 0-1; Kieran Hughes 0-1; Shane Carey 0-1; Conor McCarthy 0-1.

Scorers for Down: Pat Havern 1-1; Caolán Mooney 1-0; Barry O’Hagan 0-2 (1 ’45); Andrew Gilmore 0-1f; Tiarnán Rushe 0-1f; Daniel Guinness 0-1; Conor Poland 0-1.

Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle, Ryan Wylie (Capt.); Ryan McAnespie, Dessie Ward, Conor McCarthy; Darren Hughes, Niall Kearns; Andrew Woods, Kieran Hughes, Mícheál Bannigan; Jack McCarron, Gary Mohan, Conor McManus.

Subs: Shane Carey for Bannigan (41); Drew Wylie for Duffy (54); Karl O’Connell for D Hughes (58); Conor Leonard for Kearns (62); Seán Jones for Woods (64); David Garland for O’Connell (inj., 74).

Down: Niall Kane; Brendan McArdle, Ryan McEvoy, Peter Fegan; Ruairí McCormack, Niall McParland, Ryan Magill; Darren O’Hagan, Odhrán Murdock; Conor Francis, Caolán Mooney, Conor Poland; Andrew Gilmore, Pat Havern, Barry O’Hagan.

Subs: Ruairí O’Hare for Gilmore (inj., 30); Daniel Guinness for Francis (40); Anthony Doherty for McEvoy (50); Tiarnán Rushe for Havern (53); Gerard Collins for McArdle (60).

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).