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Armagh young guns are flattened by cool Monaghan

Armagh 0-09 Monaghan 2-16

By John Campbell

Published 31/03/2016

Hard fought: Monaghan's Michael McCarville under pressure from Armagh's Conor Martin at Pairc Esler, Newry last night
Hard fought: Monaghan's Michael McCarville under pressure from Armagh's Conor Martin at Pairc Esler, Newry last night

Monaghan left Armagh floundering in their slipstream in this Ulster Under-21 football championship semi-final at Pairc Esler, Newry.

The Oriels dominated the second-half during which they scored 2-7 and indeed could have had more given the fact that they practically owned the ball for long periods.

Armagh, who had beaten Down by 5-16 to 0-9 in the quarter-finals, simply had no answer to their opponents' pace, precision and power, their feeble challenge petering out as the second-half, during which they managed only three points, ebbed to a close.

Monaghan opened brightly with points from Conor McCarthy but were quickly reined in when Cathal McKenna (2) and Conor Martin were on target for the Orchard County.

It remained nip and tuck until the 22nd minute when the sides were deadlocked at 0-6 each, Dessie Ward and Mikey Murnaghan joining McCarthy and Barry McGinn in landing points for the Oriels while substitute James Freeman, Oisin O'Neill and Caolan McConville plundered points for Armagh.

But it was Ciaran McBride's well-drilled side that stamped their imprint more forcibly on proceedings in the 10-minute spell preceding the interval.

With Niall Loughman and Aaron Lynch imposing at midfield, Monaghan broke forward repeatedly, breaching an Armagh defence still reeling from the black card incurred by centre-half-back Shay Heffron.

McGinn swooped for his third point, McCarthy looped over a free and Lynch thumped a score from distance as Monaghan's sustained bout of pressure saw them enjoy a 0-9 to 0-6 interval advantage.

But when Monaghan stepped on the accelerator after the break, Armagh found themselves all at sea.

Substitute Fearghal McMahon fired home a 47th-minute goal from a penalty, Francis Maguire added a second following a defensive mix-up and McCarthy and McGinn continued to embellish the scoreboard with points.

The porous Armagh defence was ripped asunder as Monaghan sustained their vigorous onslaught, their clever use of space, subtle support play and lethal finishing the hallmarks of a five-star performance.

Monaghan boss McBride will now meet his native county Tyrone, whom he served so well at senior level in the past, in the decider next Wednesday.

Armagh: B Hughes; G McCabe, A Rushe, J Cosgrove; C McConville 0-1, S Heffron, J McElroy; D McKenna, O O'Neill 0-2 (1f); P Quinn, J Rafferty, C Boylan; C McKenna 0-3, S McPartlan, C Martin 0-2. Subs: J Freeman 0-1 for Quinn (12), R Finn for Heffron (BC 21), J Og Burns for Rafferty (27), A Conlon for McPartlan (46), P Savage for McKenna (50). Yellow cards: McKenna (45)

Monaghan: C Forde 0-2 (1f, 1'45'); B Kerr, M Murnaghan 0-1, K Loughran; D Ward 0-1, J Mealiff, N Rooney; N Loughman, A Lynch 0-1; R McAnespie, B McGinn 0-4 (1f), D Meegan; M O'Dowd, C McCarthy 0-4 (2f), A Treanor. Subs: F McMahon 1-2 (1-0 pen, 1f), for Treanor (33), F Maguire 1-0 for O'Dowd (40), C Rice for Ward (54), B McBennett 0-1 for Meegan (57), M McCarville for Lynch (570, A Kieran for Mealiff (60). Yellow cards; Mealiff (17), Rooney (44)

Referee: Ronan Barry (Down)

Belfast Telegraph

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