Colm O’Neill makes the difference for Cork in Monaghan

Corner-forward scored 2-6 of his side’s total in one-point Allianz League victory

Donncha O’Connor takes on Kieran Duffy at St Mary’s Stadium. The veteran O’Connor had a fine game for Cork scoring five points. Photograph: Andrew Paton/INPHO/Presseye

Donncha O’Connor takes on Kieran Duffy at St Mary’s Stadium. The veteran O’Connor had a fine game for Cork scoring five points. Photograph: Andrew Paton/INPHO/Presseye

 

CORK 2-14 MONAGHAN 1-16

An unpredictable afternoon in Castleblayney: rolling mist threatened the afternoon early on, as Monaghan played their first Allianz Football League fixture at St Mary’s Park for nine years but the afternoon ended in cheery sunshine.

For most of this Division One clash the home side looked the more likely winners. Industrious, competitive and well led by some excellent performances, they none the less ended up pointless after a Cork display of impressive economy, including just one wide, largely delivered by the excellent Colm O’Neill.

Monaghan probably deserved to get a draw and had Conor McManus slotted a free from the last kick of the match they’d have got it. That he was slightly wide was one of a couple of cruel tricks played by fate, as the clinical corner forward supplied nine points of his team’s total, including eight frees; that last attempt was his first wide from the placed ball.

Similarly, Ryan Wylie had a super match at corner back. Unfortunately for the stats he was marking O’Neill but at various stages he was on top and his anticipation and deft tackling was a feature of his team’s play.

Kept Cork alive

Mark Collins

For good measure the corner forward contrived what turned out to be the winning score in injury time, bending over a point from the left corner.

“But he can do that,” was the response of his manager Brian Cuthbert. “To be fair, I thought Ryan Wylie was doing very well on him to hold him out and he took the ball off him a few times but the class that Colm has he was quiet in the first half and then he exploded. Once he gets a sniff there’s no better player in the country to take a goal.”

The match was delayed for five minutes due to the crowds – an attendance of 5,248 – and once the ball was thrown in the congestion switched to the field for a claustrophobic and defensive first half.

For most of the 35 minutes the teams were neck and neck. Cork’s scores came with just one exception from frees, divided between Donncha O’Connor – who put in a fine shift tracking back and working the ball forward – and O’Neill.

Monaghan’s scores came that bit more easily and Kieran Hughes struck for the first goal in the 22nd minute, finding space to take Ryan McAnespie’s pass and drilling the ball into the net for a 1-4 to 0-4 lead.

Cork ended the half well, trimming the margin to one at the break, courtesy of a late free by O’Connor, who had been pulled down by Dessie Mone. Mone was black-carded and could have no complaints apart from the fact that it might have been fairer for Fergal Kelly to raffle the sanction between Mone and the others who might have been similarly punished.

“We were very ponderous in the first half and we allowed bodies to get back for Monaghan,” said Cuthbert. “But once we play very quickly we’ve actually very good forwards and once we get the ball to them I think they can be quite dangerous. Once you slow down, in any of the games you play in this thing, there are bodies back.”

Four-point lead

Dermot Malone

The match loosened up as replacements arrived, including the welcome reappearance for Cork of Michael Shields, and became helter-skelter, quite out of keeping with the first half. Between the 53rd and 55th minute, O’Neill intervened decisively: kicking two long-range frees either side of his goal to push Cork in front, 2-11 to 1-13.

It became end-to end – literally in the case of Cork goalkeeper Ken O’Halloran, who in injury time soloed all the way to the corner of the Monaghan defence, only to be dispossessed at the start of the move that ended in the host’s last-gasp free.

There was surprise at McManus taking it as it was longer than his usual range but goalkeeper Rory Beggan, who usually takes care of such things, had a slight injury.

“We are very disappointed,” said Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke.

“I thought the boys’ character shone through again. In the second half we got four up and Cork caught us with a goal against the run of play.

“That rocked us back but the boys battled back and went three or four up again, playing some good football . We conceded the second goal and a couple of mistakes we made cost us – Cork were just that bit more economical up front and got the scores when it counted.”

For his opposite number there was an added satisfaction. “The fact that two weeks in a row, we’re after showing a bit of character which people obviously questioned last year. The heat of this is championship and we’re a long way away from championship. Happy today – it will be very different against Donegal, that’s the way it works.”

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; D Wylie, C Boyle (0-1), R Wylie; D Mone, K Duffy (0-1), F Kelly (0-1); N McAdam, P Finlay (0-3, one free); D Malone (0-1), S Gollogly, R McAnespie; D McKenna, K Hughes (1-0), C McManus (0-9, eight frees). Subs: T Kerr for McKenna (h-t), D Clerkin for McAdam (49 mins), O Duffy for McAnespie (64 mins), K O’Connell for Duffy (65 mins). Black card: V Corey for Mone (half-time).

CORK: K O’Halloran; E Cadogan (0-1), Tom Clancy, J Loughrey; C Dorman, Tomás Clancy, Brian O’Driscoll (0-1); M Collins, I Maguire; J O’Rourke, D O’Connor (0-5, four frees), C O’Driscoll; C O’Neill (2-6, five points frees), P Kerrigan, B Hurley (0-1). Subs: K O’Driscoll for Kerrigan (h-t), M Shields for C O’Driscoll (51 mins), D Hodnett for Hurley (65 mins), J Hayes for O’Connor (65 mins). Referee: F Kelly (Longford).

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.