Gaelic GamesMatch Report

Monaghan make the great escape once more as they avoid relegation with win over Mayo

Conor McManus rolls back the years with 1-7 to secure Farney County’s 10th consecutive season in Division One

Allianz National Football League, Division One: Monaghan 2-14 Mayo 0-14

Conor McManus rolled back the years to help Monaghan secure a 10th consecutive season in Division One, as Vinny Corey’s side performed a great escape in Castlebar on Sunday.

Only a victory against a previously unbeaten Mayo team was going to be enough for Monaghan to avoid the drop – and even then nothing was guaranteed – but they kept their side of the bargain, with a determined final quarter display.

Mayo, their place in the Division 1 final already assured, had drawn level for the third time in the 65th minute, only for McManus to immediately respond with two points from marks. A penalty converted by the 35-year-old from the last kick of the game wrapped up a victory that, combined with Tyrone’s victory over Armagh, saw Monaghan condemn the Orchard men to the drop instead – McManus scoring 1-7, including five points from play.


“Our need was greater than [Mayo’s] and we took advantage of that in the last 10 minutes and pushed for home,” said McManus afterwards, on what was his first start this season.

“We came down here to win, we couldn’t control what was going on elsewhere. If we were going to be going out of Division One we didn’t want to go down tamely, we wanted to go down swinging. And we got the result.”

It’s the fifth time in nine seasons Monaghan have avoided relegation on the final day, their necessity to win evident during a first-half that ended with them probably disappointed to only lead by one point. Corner back Ryan O’Toole had already stuck a goal and point on the board by the time McManus looked set to bury a second Monaghan goal in the 17th minute, which would have sent the wind-assisted visitors seven points clear.

However, Mayo full back Padraig O’Hora’s last ditch intervention sparked an improved second quarter by the locals who, with Jordan Flynn and midfielders Bob Tuohy and Matthew Ruane on target from play, double-scored Monaghan between there and half-time to trail 0-8 to 1-6.

McManus had already kicked three sublime points to complement the 14th minute goal by O’Toole who was picked out in acres of space by fellow corner back Thomas McPhillips before drilling the ball beneath Rob Hennelly, one of 10 changes to the Mayo team, eight of whom were starting their first games of the year.

Another of those, Paul Towey, kicked three points in both halves for the losers who now face into a fortnight of back-to-back games against Galway and Roscommon in the Division 1 final and Connacht SFC quarter-final.

“There’s no issue about how we approach it,” said Mayo boss Kevin McStay afterwards. “We see what we can pull out of this game, have a look at the squad we have available for the final, and then we go up and we compete – absolutely flat out – to have a go at winning the title. It’s a national title, so certainly we’ll be going after it.”

Scorers – Monaghan: Conor McManus 1-7 (1-0p, 2m), Ryan O’Toole 1-1, Jack McCarron 0-3 (1f, 1m), Stephen O’Hanlon 0-2, Conor McCarthy 0-1. Mayo: Paul Towey 0-6 (5f), Jordan Flynn and Bob Tuohy 0-2 each, Stephen Coen, Matthew Ruane, Darren McHale and Ryan O’Donoghue (f) 0-1 each.

Mayo: Robbie Hennelly; Donnacha McHugh, Pádraig O’Hora, Sam Callinan; Stephen Coen, Jason Doherty, Michael Plunkett; Bob Tuohy, Matthew Ruane; Kevin McLoughlin, Frank Irwin, Jordan Flynn; Conor McStay, Aidan O’Shea, Paul Towey. Subs: David McBrien (for McHugh ht), Darren McHale (for McLoughlin 37), Jack Coyne (for O’Hora 48), Jack Carney (for Irwin 57), Ryan O’Donoghue (for Towey 64).

Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Ryan O’Toole, Kieran Duffy, Thomas McPhillips; Karl O’Connell, Ryan Wylie, Stephen O’Hanlon; Darren Hughes, Killian Lavelle; Conor McCarthy, Shane Carey, Michael Bannigan; Jack McCarron, Conor McManus, Karl Gallagher. Subs: Gary Mohan (for Carey ht), Kieran Hughes (for McCarron 59), Sean Jones (for Gallagher 68), Jason Irwin (for O’Hanlon 70+3).

Referee: David Gough (Meath)