Monaghan and Mayo were neck and neck in terms of standing in the National football league when the two sides met in a sunny Clones on Sunday the 23rd. Monaghan had come into this one off the back of a controversial draw with Dublin whereas Mayo had just come from behind to beat a struggling Meath side leaving both sides hungry for a better performance this time out. Monaghan especially were eager to show that they could close out a game after surrendering a hefty lead against Dublin in the last ten minutes. These factors and the weather led many to believe we were in for a cracker when these two sides Met in Clones.
The two sides didn’t quite meet this level of expectation in the first 20 minutes as the pitch had clearly not recovered from the recent storms with the ball and the players slipping and sliding across the pitch throughout the first 20 minutes causing an extremely scrappy game of football to unfold in the opening period.
Monaghan lost out from kickouts throughout this period with the referee being forced to throw the ball up twice due to Rory Began taking too long leading to Mayo gaining two easy scores from inside twenty yards early in the game.
It was a different story from Robert Hennelly as he was easily getting off the short kickout with no real pressure being applied from the Monaghan forward line. This ensured that Mayo had the lions share of the ball throughout this period, but they failed to really Capitalize hitting a large number of wides allowing Monaghan to get some handy scores of their own early on.
The game was all even at 20 minutes with Scores coming from Padraig O’Hora, Ryan O’Donoghue, a great score from Darren Coen from range and a Jordan Flynn point making up Mayo’s points whereas Monaghan’s came from two McManus frees a Conor McCarthy fist over and Karl O Connell score from play leaving it 4 each at the twenty minute mark.
After these scrappy opening exchanges, the game did begin to open up with both teams getting more of a foothold in the match. It appeared that Mayo may have been pulling away with two unanswered points from James Durcan and Oisin Mullin giving them some breathing room.
Then Monaghan struck with a moment of real quality from Conor McCarthy as he turned his way through three Mayo players to strike home an excellent goal which put Monaghan a point ahead for the first time in the game.
A Rory Began free from range followed in what would be Monaghan’s final point of the half at the twenty seven minute mark but Mayo again failed to take advantage of a poor Monaghan period hitting more wides and only getting two scores themselves to round out the first half coming from Darren Coen and a Diarmuid O’Conner free respectively.
It was a first half with very few moments of quality and far too many moments of real sloppiness coming from both sides leaving us with a half time score of 1-05 to 0-08.
Monaghan had a great start to the second half with a spectacular Niall Kearns point from range setting the tone for what would be a great end to the game for Monaghan.
This was soon cancelled out by a Kevin McLoughlin free, but Monaghan were clearly starting to keep the ball better and play a faster and more expansive game early in the half.
Jack McCarron was subbed in for Dermot Malone and this would prove to be a great tactical change as his long passing and ability to get scores on the board proved vital.
McCarron scored early followed by a Conor McManus free giving the Farney there first sustainable lead of the day. A Darren Coen point relived some of the pressure for Mayo and it was again a one-point lead.
Two more Monaghan scores followed however from McCarthy and McManus, and with 15 minutes to play Monaghan were a goal in front having produced a strong showing in the early stages of the second period and this lead continued for the following few minutes as Mayo and Monaghan went tit for tat with both sides getting more scores on the board.
Then in the 61st minute the game shifted in Monaghan’s favour as Jordan Flynn was shown a second yellow card leaving Monaghan with the lead and a man advantage for the last 10 minutes of the game. This was a real turning point and Monaghan took total control after this incident.
Kieran Hughes then laid it on a plate for Kieran Duffy to palm home giving Monaghan a second goal and a 5-point advantage which the never relinquished. Monaghan didn’t look back and got the next 3 scores of the game more or less sealing Mayo’s fate.
This pattern continued with Monaghan racking up the scores and in stoppage time Padraig O’Hora who started the game with the first score was also shown a second yellow card forcing Mayo to play out the last few minutes with 13 men.
This embodied what was an awful day for Mayo and a brilliant won for Monaghans Farney Army.
Final score: Monaghan 2-16 Mayo 0-13
MOTM: Conor McCarthy 1-04
Monaghan face an away game with Donegal next with the Farney boys sitting 3rd in the league with their spirits high whereas Mayo face another tough task at home to the Kingdom.