‘You have to take those chances’ - Monaghan rue plenty as Galway end their season

Barry McBennett’s missed goal chance off the crossbar in second half proved costly for Farney county

Andrew Woods of Monaghan in action against Sean Mulkerrin of Galway. Photograph: Natasha Barton/Inpho

All-Ireland SFC preliminary quarter-final: Galway 0-14 Monaghan 0-11

Monaghan manager Vinny Corey lamented missed chances against Galway which ultimately saw their 2024 season come to a half in the wind and rain at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.

Top of the list was an effort from Barry McBennett which came crashing back off the underside of the crossbar after 54 minutes. A goal would have edged Monaghan a point clear, instead they found themselves four adrift within minutes and in a season where they were relegated from Division One, their year was just about done and dusted.

“We had a few chances and we didn’t take them,” said Corey. “We needed to take them. If that goal went in we were a point up and a chance to press their kickout but instead it came off the crossbar and they come up the field and suddenly there are three or four points in it.


“You can say it over and over again, you have got to take those chances. We did everything right, it just bounced out instead of bouncing in.”

Veteran midfielder Paul Conroy led the way in seeing them negotiate this tricky assignment in front of a crowd of 6,768. He kicked three excellent points, all at key moments, while John Maher was just as influential with a performance full of running.

They needed inspiration against a dogged Monaghan side who opted to play against the wind and rain in the opening half. They regularly got all 15 men back into their own half, worked their socks off, and went in trailing by just 0-6 to 0-5 at the break.

Points from Rob Finnerty and Maher pushed Galway two clear but then came the key moment of the game after 54 minutes. Michael Hamill and Conor McCarthy worked the ball to set up McBennett but as he bore down on goal he blasted the ball off the crossbar from close range.

Galway responded to the let-off by countering and snatching two pointed frees from Finnerty to put four between them and when Damien Comer, given a huge reception from the Galway fans when he came on, eventually escaped the shackled of Killian Lavelle to raise the biggest cheer of the afternoon with a point, there really was only going to be one outcome.

There was still time for a cameo from Conor McManus off the bench in what is likely to be his final game for Monaghan. Manager Vinny Corey looked for an impact and the long-serving McManus delivered it with two pointed frees in the closing stages to cut the gap to three but that was as close as they got.

Conor McManus may have played his last game for Monaghan. Photograph: James Lawlor/Inpho

Now Galway manager Padraic Joyce is once again assessing a casualty list that saw Shane Walsh limp off and Comer make his return from the bench.

“Damien came on, we knew there wasn’t much time in him. We got 20-25 minutes out of him there so we will see how he is for next week. Definitely, he’ll have an impact. What impact he’ll have, we’ll decide,” said Joyce.

“He was fantastic, in fairness to him. We knew with the type of injury he had, there wasn’t 70 minutes in him. We thought we might get 20-25 out of him, but we had to use him a bit sooner than we thought. He gave us a bit of direction up there and a bit of a focal point which was what we needed. He kicked a good score in fairness to him. It’s great to see him back on the pitch. To keep him on it now is the big thing for us.

“We’ll see how we go. Is there 70 minutes of football in him? 70 minutes in Croke Park is a different animal. You need legs in Croke Park. You’re playing for 75 or 80 minutes there and chasing fellas the full length of the pitch. We’ll look at it and see.”

Joyce is waiting to establish the extent of the injury which forced Walsh off after 26 minutes.

“He was complaining about the ankle being a bit sore, but he wasn’t giving us much up till that anyway. We got Liam Ó Conghaile in, who just gave us fresher legs and kicked a good score in the second half. We’ll assess Shane. I don’t know how bad it is.

“We’re well used to going for MRIs and scans, the hospitals are sick looking at us coming. We’ll get it checked out in the next day or two and see how bad it is,” added Joyce.

He was pleased with the way they had eight shots in the second half against the wind and no wides, but after being forced into a preliminary quarter-final when they let a winning hand slip against Armagh, he said the vibe in the dressing room was relief in getting over this one.

“The mood is relief, obviously, to just get through,” added Joyce. “I said before we can’t win every game the way we might like to win them. We knew Monaghan were going to be a serious test, a proud footballing county with a lot of good individual players. We will take the win. No one will be worried about this game next week.

Galway: C Gleeson; J Glynn, S Fitzgerald, S Mulkerrin; J McGrath, L Silke, D McHugh; P Conroy (0-3), M Tierney (0-2, two frees); C Darcy, S Kelly, C McDaid; R Finnerty (0-5, three frees), S Walsh (0-1, one free), J Maher (0-1). Subs: L Ó'Conghaile (0-1) for Walsh (26), D Comer (0-1) for Darcy (41), J Heaney for McDaid (65), C Hernon for Kelly (68), D Ó'Flaherty for Finnerty (70).

Monaghan: R Beggan; K Lavelle, R O’Toole, R Wylie; J Irwin, R McAnespie, C McCarthy (0-1); G Mohan (0-1), J Wilson; M Hamill, M Bannigan (0-2, one free), B McBennett; A Woods, J McCarron (0-3, two frees), S O’Hanlon (0-2). Subs: T McPhillips for McAnespie (28), C McManus (0-2, two frees) for Mohan (45), M McCarville for Wilson (53), C McNulty for McCarron (58), S Jones for Hamill (68).

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary).