All-Ireland SFC Group 4 Round 2: Monaghan 1-23 Clare 1-18
Monaghan have three points from two games after they won a shoot-out against Clare in sweltering conditions in Clones.
Restored to the starting line-up, Jack McCarron gave an exhibition of point-scoring as he racked up 0-9, with just one from a free, to help Monaghan shake off the stubborn resistance of a Clare side who had led for much of the first half.
A Darragh Bohannon goal had the visitors a point up 10 minutes into the second half, but Monaghan rallied and they eventually sealed the win when Conor McCarthy rattled the net in some style late on. Monaghan, who once again held Conor McManus and the Hughes brothers in reserve until the second half, had 10 players on the scoresheet as they hit 1-19 from open play.
A high-octane start produced six points from six shots in as many minutes, with Clare getting four of those through Bohannon, Cathal O’Connor, Keelan Sexton and Mark McInerney, while Monaghan’s replies came via wing backs Karl O’Connell and Conor McCarthy.
Clare continued their clinical finishing through Emmet McMahon, Sexton and Daniel Walsh as they built up a three-point lead, not registering their first wide until the 25th minute.
Monaghan needed some fine scores from McCarron to stay in touch, while Ryan O’Toole and Mícheál Bannigan were also on target for the hosts, who edged ahead for the first time when Karl Gallagher kicked their ninth point on the half-hour mark. McMahon and Sexton regained the lead for Clare, but a Rory Beggan ‘45 sent Monaghan in on level terms at 0-10 apiece.
Another sublime score from McCarron got Monaghan up and running in the second half, while McCarthy chipped one over, as well as providing a couple of assists for carbon-copy efforts by Bannigan. Clare got a lifeline in the 45th minute, however, when Aaron Griffin’s close-range shot was saved by Rory Beggan and Bohannon was the first to react to net the rebound.
The scores continued to flow at both ends, with an inspirational point on the break by Stephen O’Hanlon getting Monaghan a much-needed response, while McCarron and sub Conor McManus were also on the mark.
Clare refused to wilt, with points from Jamie Malone, O’Connor and McMahon keeping the game in the melting pot. But Monaghan finally put some daylight between the teams when a flowing length-of-the-pitch move ended with McCarthy rattling home a spectacular goal.
The visitors kept going, with O’Connor and McMahon adding to their tallies, but McCarron’s ninth point of the game and Gary Mohan’s first left Monaghan with five to spare.
Derry’s win over Donegal means that Clare can’t qualify for the next round, even if they manage to beat the Ulster champions on June 17th. Monaghan, who face Donegal on the same day, are currently tied with Derry on three points at the top of the group.
MONAGHAN: R Beggan (0-1, a 45); R O’Toole (0-1), K Duffy (capt), R Wylie; K O’Connell (0-2), C Boyle, C McCarthy (1-2); G Mohan (0-1), K Lavelle; S Carey, M Bannigan (0-3, one free), R McAnespie; S O’Hanlon (0-1), K Gallagher (0-1), J McCarron (0-9, one free).
Subs: D Hughes for Wylie (41 mins); C McManus (0-2, one free) for Carey (44); K Hughes for Gallagher (64); C Lennon for Lavelle (70); D McElearney for McAnespie (73).
CLARE: S Ryan; C Brennan, R Lanigan, M Doherty; C Russell, P Lillis, C Rouine; C O’Connor (0-3), D Bohannon (1-1); D Walsh (0-1), E McMahon (0-6, five frees), J Malone (0-2); M McInerney (0-2, one free), K Sexton (0-3, one free), P Collins.
Subs: A Griffin for Collins (inj, 37 mins); A Sweeney for Brennan (50); D O’Neill for Bohannon (55); S Griffin for McInerney (61); B McNamara for Walsh (70).
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh).