Students teach Monaghan a lesson
Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup: Monaghan 1-09 - UUJ 2-16
Ulster University made an impressive start to the Dr McKenna Cup with a 10-point win over Monaghan in Clones yesterday. Despite lining out without some of their star players, UU ran out convincing winners, with 10 players getting scores, led by Evan Regan and Cailean O'Boyle who hit a combined total of 2-5.
The visitors led almost from start to finish against an inexperienced Monaghan side featuring just five of the starting 15 that won last year's Ulster SFC Final.
Barry McGinn, who hit 1-3, was the pick of five Monaghan debutants in what was a lethargic performance by the home team.
UU were first off the mark when Michael Argue punched an Evan Regan '45 over, but a McGinn free brought Monaghan level. Ryan McHugh took a point after having a goal-attempt pushed onto the post, before McGinn again equalised for Monaghan, who edged ahead for the only time through a Padraic Keenan point.
The students then took charge with six unanswered points, from six different scorers: Conan Grugan, Stephen Sheridan, McHugh, Danny Savage, O'Boyle and Evan Regan. A McGinn free ended 23 scoreless minutes for Monaghan, but they still trailed by double scores at half-time (0-8 to 0-4).
A Regan free opened the second-half scoring, but after Monaghan had failed to take a couple of goal chances, they eventually found the net through McGinn, at the second attempt after his county colleague Rory Beggan, who had come on as a sub for UU, had saved his original effort.
An Owen Duffy point helped Monaghan move within one, but McHugh doubled the Poly's lead again. Dermot Malone kept the hosts in touch, only for a goal by O'Boyle to give UU a decisive lead.
Rory Brennan, Regan and Beggan moved the University side further clear and Regan scored a brilliant goal six minutes from time to put the icing on the cake. Substitutes David Millar and Daniel McKenna got on the scoresheet for Monaghan, but O'Boyle, Madine and Beggan helped UU wrap up a well-deserved win.
Malachy O'Rourke acknowledged that his Monaghan team "have plenty of work to do" in advance of the National League, accepting that his charges were second-best to a sharper, fitter Ulster University side, who will certainly be among the favourites for the Sigerson Cup on this showing. Ulster University travel to Cavan on Saturday, while Monaghan host Armagh on Sunday.