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Superior Donegal edge Monaghan to make it six finals in succession

Donegal 0-17 Monaghan-10

Game over: Donegal’s Mark Anthony McGinley celebrates his side’s victory over Monaghan in the semi-final replay
Game over: Donegal’s Mark Anthony McGinley celebrates his side’s victory over Monaghan in the semi-final replay

By Chris McNulty

The biggest disappointment was that it had to end some time. A fascinating and ferocious replay that was every bit as gripping as the first instalment concluded with Donegal - having been much the better side throughout - prevailing by just a point to book a berth in their sixth successive Ulster final.

Donegal were keen to lay a marker here and were five up by the time Shane Carey got Monaghan off the mark in the 17th minute.

Two lapses in concentration by Donegal allowed Monaghan in for goals that made it game on. First, Conor McManus was allowed to feed Carey and he tucked past Mark Anthony McGinley.

The Donegal response came with Patrick McBrearty, Martin O'Reilly and Michael Murphy on the mark, but Anthony Thompson was black carded for upending Ryan Wylie, Maurice Deegan awarded a penalty and McManus smashed to the net. All of a sudden, it was level pegging. Donegal led 0-10 to 2-2 at the break, Frank McGlynn and Murphy scoring points late in the half.

Mark McHugh, Thompson's replacement, delightfully arched over early in the second half and Donegal maintained their grip.

A quick trio of scores by Murphy, McBrearty and the often-underappreciated O'Reilly had Donegal 0-15 to 2-5 ahead with ten minutes left. Donegal had a real let-off when Conor McCarthy lobbed McGinley, but was denied by the crossbar and when Rory Kavanagh was sent off for a second bookable offence the pendulum began to swing.

O'Reilly not only hit three points, but kept Karl O'Connell - man of the match in the drawn game - quiet and Monaghan finished with 14 men as O'Connell was black carded with the full compliment of subs already used.

McManus, Jack McCarron and Colin Walshe pointed as the holders hit back, but when Kieran Duffy dropped short into Donegal hands, Deegan called time and the reaction said it all.

Donegal boss Rory Gallagher said: "It's a massive achievement. You can't put into words the effort that those guys put in. Every single one of them gave it absolutely everything."

Donegal: MA McGinley, P McGrath, E McGee, K Gillespie; R McHugh, Karl Lacey, F McGlynn (0-1); R Kavanagh (0-1), O MacNiallais; A Thompson (0-1), M McElhinney (0-1), E McHugh; P McBrearty (0-4, 3f), M Murphy (0-5, 4f, 1 '45), M O'Reilly (0-3). Subs: M McHugh (0-1) for Thomson (black card, 33), C Toye for McElhinney (52), E Gallagher for O'Reilly (70), McElhinney for MacNiallais (70).

Monaghan: R Beggan, C Walshe (0-1), D Wylie, R Wylie; K Duffy, V Corey, F Kelly; D Hughes, K O'Connell, O Duffy (0-1), R McAnespie, S Carey (1-1), D McKenna, K Hughes, C McManus (1-4, 1-0 pen, 1f, 1 '45) Subs: N McAdam for D Wylie (half-time), D Malone for McKenna (half-time), C Boyle (0-1) for R Wylie (46), C McCarthy for Carey (49), J McCarron (0-2) for K Hughes (52), D Mone for Kelly (63).

Referee: M Deegan (Laois).

Belfast Telegraph


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