Monaghan point Derry to exit door in All-Ireland qualifier
Monaghan 1-13 Derry 1-12
Lightning does, after all, strike twice. Just ask Derry manager Paddy Crozier.
Last year his team were sent packing from the Ulster Championship by Monaghan and now they have once again been ambushed by Seamus McEnaney's men, this time in the first round of the All Ireland Qualifiers.
It may have been touch-and-go in a tense second-half at Clones but Monaghan's extra dimension of belief and resolve eventually saw them over the finishing line.
Manager McEnaney, clearly delighted that his side have regained credibility following their disappointing end to the National League which preceded that Championship upset at the hands of Fermanagh, is now hoping that more progress is in the offing.
"I have great trust and faith in these lads, they are the best bunch I have ever worked with.
“They showed great character in a game that went down to the wire.
“Overall, I think we deserved to win — we were the better team in the first-half although we should have been further ahead at that stage.
“We were written off going into the game too, but the boys provided the perfect answer," declared McEnaney.
With Eoin Lennon commanding at midfield and skipper Damien Freeman sweeping up intelligently at the back, Monaghan discarded their early nerves to enjoy a bonanza spell from the 23rd minute until the 35th minute during which Dick Clerkin's opportunist goal was the highlight of an unanswered 1-4 harvest that brought them into a 1-7 to 0-4 lead.
But when Eoin Bradley prodded in Derry's goal in first-half injury time, Monaghan found themselves with only a two-point cushion at the break (1-7 to 1-5).
The much-changed Derry side suddenly carried extra venom in the third quarter.
Early points from Enda Muldoon and Joe O'Kane provided the momentum for a more adventurous approach and by the 56th minute, the Oak Leaf men were very much on song after substitute Chris McKaigue fired them into a 1-11 to 1-10 lead.
But with Ciaran Hanratty and Tommy Freeman in perpetual motion up front, Monaghan always carried danger.
Although Paddy Bradley raised Derry's hopes with his fourth point of the game in the 66th minute, it was sandwiched between a Hanratty score and another from substitute Shane Smyth before Tommy Freeman ushered Monaghan to safety with his match-winning strike from a 70th minute free.
Damien Freeman's heroics won him man-of-the-match award and he said: “We have felt all along that we are not as bad as we were painted against Fermanagh and we set our hearts on making sure that our name was in the bowl for the second round of the Qualifiers.”
MONAGHAN: P McBennett; D Mone, J P Mone, D McArdle; D Freeman, D Hughes, P McGuigan; E Lennon, D Clerkin (1-0); C McManus (0-1), R Woods (0-1), S Gollogly (0-2); C Hanratty (0-3), V Corey, T Freeman (0-5, 0-2 frees). Substitutes: S Smyth (0-1) for Hughes (47 mins), N McAdam for McGuigan (54 mins), B McKenna for Clerkin (66 mins). Yellow cards: Woods (37 mins).
DERRY: J Deighan; J O'Kane (0-1), N McCusker, G O'Kane; L Hinphey, K McCloy, M McBride; F Doherty (0-1), Patsy Bradley; R Wilkinson, M Lynch (0-2), C Devlin (0-1); P Bradley (0-4, 0-2 frees), E Bradley (1-1), E Muldoon (0-1). Substitutes: C McKaigue (0-1) for Hinphey (half-time), C Gilligan for Wilkinson (47 mins), P Murphy for Muldoon (50 mins), J Diver for McCloy (62 mins), J Conway for Patsy Bradley (68 mins). Yellow cards: McCusker (31 mins), Patsy Bradley (56 mins).
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).