Monaghan step up the class to see off Armagh second time around

Conor McManus strikes 1-7 at Clones to set up Ulster Final repeat against Donegal

Monaghan 1-18 Armagh 1-13

It wasn’t quite as comfortable as it should have been but Monaghan are back in another Ulster football final, dispensing of Armagh at the second time of asking with a far more classy display of their skill and confidence at Clones.

With that they set up the perfect final showdown against Donegal on July 20th, the team Monaghan beat in last year’s final to dispose them as champions in the process.

Here, before another bumper crowd of 23,324 – up nearly 5,000 from the drawn game – Monaghan were never in any danger of not pulling through, Conor McManus striking 1-7, with equally prolific contributions from Paul Finlay, Darren Hughes, and the ever ready Dick Clerkin.


Indeed Armagh were chasing the game from very early on, and were also forced to play the last eight minutes with 14 men, after Stefan Campbell was black-carded for a trip on McManus with manager Paul Grimley having already used all six substitutes.

Monaghan were sharper, fitter, more productive from the start, building up a four-point advantage at half-time that in truth should have been a lot more. Armagh did close that gap back to four points again midway through the second half, but that was as close as they got to a Monaghan team who had simply far more reserves of football.

Darren Hughes hit two early scores from midfield, although Armagh then briefly edged ahead thanks to Aaron Findon’s goal on 12 minutes – the crossbar saving Aidan Forker’s initial effort, before Findon deftly fired in the rebound.

But Armagh wouldn't score again for another 18 minutes (also losing Finnian Moriarty to a black card), as Monaghan dominated all quarters to hit them with five points without reply, including a free from goalkeeper Rory Beggan, and a sweet gem from play by Conor McManus.

Then, when Kieran Toner's goal chance for Armagh at one end was snuffed out wide, Monaghan's counter-attack ended with a goal at the other end, Kieran Hughes providing the perfect pass to McManus, who likewise shot perfectly out of Philip McEvoy's reach.

A couple more points were exchanged, but Monaghan looked comfortably the better team at the break, up 1-8 to 1-4, and surely knowing they only had to maintain that momentum to progress. Which they comfortably did.

MONAGHAN: 1 R Beggan (0-2, both frees); 10 R Wylie, 3 D Wylie, 4 C Walsh; 5 D Mone, 6 V Corey, 7 F Kelly; 8 D Clerkin (0-1), 9 D Hughes (0-2); 21 P Finlay (0-3, one free), 22 S Gollogly (0-1), 12 P McKenna; 13 D Malone (0-1), 14 K Hughes, 15 C McManus (capt) (1-7, three frees, one sideline).

Subs: 11 C McGuinness (0-1) for K Hughes (half-time), 20 G Doogan for Clerkin (67 mins).

ARMAGH: 1 P McEvoy; 19 F Moriarty, 2 J Morgan, 3 C Vernon; 5 M Shields, 6 B Donaghy, 7 C McKeever (capt); 8 K Toner, 9 A Findon (1-0); 24 A Forker, 11 K Dyas, 10 E McVerry (0-1); 15 J Clarke (0-5, one free), 12 S Campbell, 18 T Kernan (0-7, six frees).

Subs: 4 A Mallon for Morriarty (23 mins, black card), 13 K Carragher for McVerry, 22 S Harold for Toner (both half-time), 20 M Murray for Morgan (40 mins), 25 A Kernan for Donaghy (47 mins), 17 R Grugan for Forker (60 mins).