Monaghan strike in extra-time to break Galway hearts

Remarkable relegation playoff went right down to the wire in Clones on Sunday

Monaghan’s Dessie Ward, Barry McBennett, Conor McCarthy and Michael Bannigan celebrate at the final whistle of their relegation playoff win over Galway. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Monaghan’s Dessie Ward, Barry McBennett, Conor McCarthy and Michael Bannigan celebrate at the final whistle of their relegation playoff win over Galway. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Monaghan 1-21 Galway 2-17 (AET)

In the end, neither manager was in a position to speak publicly after this most remarkable of relegation playoff games in Clones.

Séamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney, the victorious manager, celebrated with players afterwards though was technically suspended following Monaghan’s Covid-19 regulations violation so ceded the media duties to stand-in boss David McCague.

Galway manager Pádraic Joyce was simply unavailable for comment afterwards and, well, who can blame him.

This was an epic encounter that Galway should have won - they led by five points with 68 minutes on the clock - but ultimately had it pinched from their grasp in the 94th minute of the game by Jack McCarron and a most resolute Monaghan.

The Currin man didn’t actually start the game but came on for the injured Andrew Woods after 11 minutes, tallied seven points and kicked his name somewhere into the Farney history books with that late, late winner.

It was the last act of an incredible game that had more angles than the most complex of trigonometry lessons.

There were the two first-half Galway goals, from Paul Kelly and Rob Finnerty, which put them in a strong position. There were the two black cards picked up by Monaghan players - Darren Hughes and Dessie Ward - which meant they played much of the second-half with 14 players and fell under Galway’s thumb.

Then there was the late fight-back which yielded 1-3 to Galway’s 0-1, the 72nd minute goal a Hughes cracker, teeing up Conor McManus to drill the equaliser in the 75th minute.

Galway will kick themselves for letting things get to that stage. Johnny Heaney butchered a 46th minute goal chance and Matthew Tierney cannoned a long range shot off the bar. Walsh and Finnerty had bad wides too when the game was in the melting pot.

Another talking point was Galway midfielder Paul Conroy’s petulant trip on Hughes which earned him a black card, shortly before the Hughes goal.

Conroy was influential when he returned in extra-time and contributed to two points as Galway moved one clear.

But Monaghan badly wanted to remain in Division 1 for an eighth consecutive season and tied it up for the ninth time before punishing an errant Galway clearance by working the ball to McCarron who held his nerve and kicked the winner.

Monaghan’s Killian Lavelle tackles Peadar O Cuaig of Galway. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Monaghan’s Killian Lavelle tackles Peadar O Cuaig of Galway. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

If there’s even half the drama when Monaghan return to St Tiernach’s Park in under three weeks for an Ulster quarter-final against Fermanagh, we’ll be doing well.

“The main emotion I have at the moment is pride,” said Monaghan selector McCague. “Pride in the players that they trusted and had confidence in themselves in the clutch moments of the game to execute things that we’ve worked on in training.

“That’s a really proud moment as a Monaghan man, as a Monaghan supporter, to see players express themselves in that way, in that chaos at the end.”

Galway, Division 1 finalists in 2018, had a four-season run in the top flight but will return to the second tier next season. The more immediate concern for Joyce and his players is a Connacht championship clash with Roscommon on July 4th at Dr Hyde Park.

Monaghan: R Beggan (0-1, 1 45); D Ward (0-3), K McMenamin, R Wylie; K Duffy (0-1), C Boyle, K O’Connell (0-1); N Kearns, K Lavelle; M Bannigan, C McCarthy, R McAnespie (0-2); S O’Hanlon, A Woods, C McManus (0-4, 2f).

Subs: J McCarron (0-7, 2f) for Woods 11, D Hughes (1-1) for Bannigan h/t, F Kelly for O’Connell 47, A Mulligan for Lavelle 51, G Mohan for O’Hanlon & S Hanratty for Wylie 65. S Carey (0-1) for McCarthy, B McBennett for Kearns and Bannigan for McMenamin e/t, O’Connell for Boyle 83, McCarthy for Mohan 86, Wylie for Duffy 89.

Galway: C Gleeson; S Kelly, J Glynn, S Mulkerrin; K Molloy (0-1), D McHugh, L Silke; P Conroy, M Tierney (0-2, 1 45, 1m); E Brannigan (0-1), P Cooke, F O Laoi; R Finnerty (1-3, 0-1m), S Walsh (0-7, 6f), P Kelly (1-1).

Subs: J Heaney for Brannigan 32, J Duane (0-1) for Glynn h/t, C Sweeney (0-1) for Molloy & D Conneely for P Kelly 51, G O’Donnell for O Laoi 63, T Culhane for Finnerty & M O Bairead for Walsh 68. Walsh for Culhane & Finnerty for Heaney e/t, Molloy for Silke 83, Culhane for Finnerty & O Laoi for Cooke 88.

Referee: D Gough (Meath).

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