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Conor McManus strikes late to bail out lucky Monaghan


Monaghan's Conor McManus

Monaghan's Conor McManus

©INPHO/Gary Carr

Monaghan's Conor McManus

A late free from Conor McManus snatched a draw for Monaghan in a hard-fought Dr McKenna Cup encounter against Cavan in freezing conditions at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Cavan thought they had won it when Paul O'Connor curled in a brilliant point in the dying seconds but Monaghan had other ideas and a late surge saw them earn a free, which sub McManus slotted over with ease.

Cavan were still celebrating, however, as the draw was enough for them to book a place in the semi-finals. They led by 0-9 to 0-7 at the end of a tame first half of action. The small crowd in attendance probably expected fireworks between the neighbours but both sides fielded experimental teams, with three players - Barry Tully, Conor Finnegan and O'Connor - making their starting debuts for the hosts.

Cavan raced into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead with points from the in-form Jack Brady (two, one free) and Niall McDermott but with veteran Stephen Gollogly prominent on the 40, Monaghan soon grew into the contest.

Jack McCarron got them off the mark with a free and although McDermott cancelled that out, points from McCarron and the lively Shane Carey dragged Monaghan closer.

Monaghan lost Daniel McKenna to a black card 20 minutes in but made light of the setback and two more McCarron points (one free) levelled matters.

Cavan finished the half strongly, Cian Mackey curling over, O'Connor landing another and then David Givney firing over.

Monaghan rolled out the big guns in the second-half, bringing McManus, Colin Walshe and Dermot Malone off the bench and after Martin Reilly and Mackey had edged Cavan three in front, Malachy O'Rourke's men finished strongly for a deserved draw.

Belfast Telegraph