Armagh remain unbeaten after draw with 14-man Monaghan

Off colour hosts brought back into the game by the sending off of Conor McManus

Armagh 1-7 Monaghan 0-10

Fourteen man Monaghan drew with unbeaten Armagh in a bruising Division One tie at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday.

Monaghan talisman Conor McManus came in for his first start of the year and had been flying before his sending off at the start of the second half led to the visitor’s downfall.

Despite being let down by some wayward shooting in the first half, Seamus McEneany’s side always held the upper hand, until the sending off of McManus. That left the door ajar for an off colour Armagh to seize the initiative and come away with a well earned point.

Discipline was an issue for Monaghan all evening, with McManus being shown a red following an off the ball incident with Aidan Forker, while Dessie Ward conceded a penalty and in doing so picked up a black card.

Fortunately for Ward, Rian O’Neill crashed his effort off the crossbar but minus two players, Monaghan saw their momentum melt much like the snow at the side of the pitch.

Substitute Conor Turbitt calmly finished to net in the next passage of play. Armagh soon levelled and briefly took the lead through Tiernan Kelly in the 61st minute. Jack McCarron came to the rescue in the end for Monaghan with a late free.

Darren Hughes once again was a colossus, the farmer by day, bullied anyone who came near the middle of the field on the night. Hughes was the conductor of the successful Farney press on Blaine Hughes. But the loss of McManus meant the press was no longer a weapon. Plus, Aidan Forker would tag Hughes for the entire second half.

Early dominance

McManus signalled the visitors intent with the opening score. A few half goal chances aside, two Rian O’Neill frees kept a swamped Armagh in touch.

Orchard half back Jarlath Óg Burns, playing as a false half forward, drove forward time after time but it was Monaghan who were dominant on the counter. McCarron kicked his first free, Killian Lavelle and Shane Carey pushed Monaghan 0-6 to 0-3 ahead but it should have been more.

McCarron and McManus were guilty of missed frees as their side’s wide tally in the first half went into the double digits. McManus did land a brace but Monaghan would rue those missed chances.

Armagh looked to have lost Rian O’Neill to injury at half time but he would later return, his replacement Conor Turbitt would make it double scores 0-8 to 0-4 at half time.

In the second half, Armagh came to life with the extra men, and substitute Stefan Campbell produced a glorious score at a key moment. Eventually they took the lead, but couldn’t hold it for long.

After McCarron levelled, Monaghan kept the ball for the entirety of the four minutes of additional time but failed to get a shot off. McManus dearly missed again. Points shared.

Armagh: B Hughes; P Burns, A McKay, A Forker; J Óg Burns, N Rowland, Connaire Mackin; S Sheridan, Ciaran Mackin, J Hall, R Grugan, T Kelly (0-1); J Duffy; R O'Neill (0-2, 0-2 frees), A Nugent (0-1). Subs: C Turbitt (1-1) for R O'Neill (blood 28 mins), O O'Neill (0-1) for Sheridan, S Campbell (0-1) for Rowland (both h-t), R O'Neill for Duffy (46 mins), M Shields for Hall (57 mins), N Grimley for Connaire Mackin (65 mins).

Monaghan: R Beggan; K Duffy, C Boyle, R Wylie; R McAnespie (0-1), D Ward, K Lavelle (0-1); D Hughes, N Kearns; A Woods, M Bannigan (0-1), S Carey (0-1); C McManus (0-4, 0-2 frees), J McCarron (0-2 frees), G Mohan. Subs: K Hughes for Kearns (18 mins), K O'Connell for McAnespie (50 mins), C Walshe for Woods (54 mins), A Mulligan for Mohan (62 mins).

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).