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Battle-hardened Monaghan hold their nerve to take the points

Monaghan 0-15 Kildare 1-10

By Colm Shalvey

Monaghan started their Super 8 group with a hard-fought win over Kildare at Croke Park yesterday.

Free-flowing football wasn't in abundance in greasy conditions, but an experienced, battle-hardened Monaghan team held their nerve in a tense finish.

Kildare opened the scoring with a Neil Flynn free, but Conor McManus and Niall Kearns responded for Monaghan in a lively first five minutes. Daniel Flynn then gave Kildare a major boost when he powered through to fire home his fourth goal of the 2018 championship.

Monaghan responded well with points from McManus and Conor McCarthy, before Rory Beggan reacted sharply to tip another Daniel Flynn goal-attempt over the bar. A Beggan 45 and a fine point from Karl O'Connell moved Monaghan ahead again and although Tommy Moolick got one back, Shane Carey restored the two-point gap.

Monaghan reached double figures for the first half via scores from McCarthy and O'Connell, although a Neil Flynn brace kept Kildare in touch at 0-10 to 1-5.

Fergal Conway and Neil Flynn brought Kildare level within 10 minutes of the restart, while O'Connell's third at the other end proved to be Monaghan's only score of the third quarter. Johnny Byrne equalised again, but Kieran Duffy got forward to regain the lead for Monaghan.

A Kevin Feely free left the sides deadlocked again, but points from McManus and Kearns saw Monaghan kick for home. Kildare sub Eamonn Callaghan made it a one-point game, but Monaghan weren't to be denied and a long-range free by Beggan secured their win in a tense finish.

Monaghan welcome Kerry to Clones next Sunday, while Kildare take on Galway in Newbridge.

Monaghan: R Beggan (0-2, 1f, 1 '45); K Duffy (0-1), D Wylie (Capt.), R Wylie; F Kelly, V Corey, D Mone; N Kearns (0-2), D Hughes; R McAnespie, S Carey (0-1), K O'Connell (0-3); O Duffy, C McManus (0-4, 2f), C McCarthy (0-2). Subs: P McKenna for O Duffy (black card, 16), J McCarron for Kelly (47), K Hughes for McKenna (59), D Malone for Carey (65).

Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland, M O'Grady; J Byrne (0-1), E Doyle (Capt.), K Flynn; K Feely (0-1f), T Moolick (0-1); F Conway (0-1), P Cribbin, K Cribbin; N Flynn (0-4, 2f), D Flynn (1-1), P Brophy. Subs: N Kelly for P Cribbin (45), C Healy for Brophy (49), D Slattery for K Cribbin (58), E Callaghan (0-1) for Moolick (68), C McNally for N Flynn (70).

Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).

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