Monaghan hold sway in close affair
MONAGHAN clinched promotion for the second successive year after defeating their main rivals, Roscommon, by 1-14 to 1-12, in an absorbing encounter at Ballybay yesterday.
Monaghan settled first, and an 11th minute goal from Stephen McGinnity gave them a 1-4 to 0-1 lead. Roscommon hit back with three consecutive points and a fine goal from Don Connellan in the 24th minute.
The home side reasserted themselves immediately with points from Peter Duffy and Declan Smyth, only for Roscommon to reply in kind to leave the sides level, on 1-6 each, at half-time.
That second half followed a similar pattern with Monaghan taking a two point lead six times, only for Roscommon to reduce the leeway to the minimum on each occasion.
While Roscommon were always in the hunt, mainly thanks to four points from substituted Luke Dolan, they were never able to draw level and Declan Smyth's fifth point, in the final minute, secured Monaghan's promotion place.
Mayo, who were already assured of promotion, became the division's champions after a somewhat unconvincing 0-9 to 0-7 win over Fermanagh at Irvinestown. At halftime, the teams were level at 0-4 each, but Fermanagh, who had enjoyed the better of the first half, missed three good chances just before the break.
Two points from Raymond and Mark Gallagher put Mayo's 100 per cent record, the only one in the league, in danger and forced John Maughan to take evasive action. Three Mayo substitutes, Tom Reilly, PJ Loftus and Dempsey helped themselves to a vital point apiece, which in the end sea cured them victory.
Ant rim kept the best for last and grabbed a lifeline with a 1-11 to 0-11 win over Galway at Casemeat Park. Their second win means they now face Fermanagh, who are also on four points, in a relegation play-off.
Although Galway goalkeeper Cathal McGinley saved John McManus's penalty attempt at the first and second attempts, he was unable to prevent Jimmy Wilson scrambling the ball to the net. This left Antrim 1-5 to 0-7 ahead at half-time.
Antrim played some strong running football for the remainder of the game, but with four minutes of time still remaining, Shay Walsh levelled the match for the sixth time from a 45. However, it was Antrim who finished the stronger and two points by John McManus and another by Eddie Quinn gave victory to the home side.
Wexford went one better than Antrim and secured their survival when overwhelming Sligo by 4-11 to 1-8 at Markievicz Park. The defeat sends Sligo back to Division Four after only one year away from the basement division. Although the home side clocked up four points without reply in the opening minutes they were unable to build on that lead.
Wexford's revival was boosted by a splendid Mick Dillon goal on 13 minutes and although they trailed by 0-7 to 1-3 at half-time, they soon moved into top gear. Terrible defensive blunders by Sligo let Tollie McBride in for two soft goals in the first six minutes of the second half
The impressive Scott Doran added a fourth goal for Wexford midway through the half.