Farney defeat leaves Red Hands battling relegation.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Farney defeat leaves Red Hands battling relegation. thumbnail Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly is put under pressure from the Monaghan defence.

TYRONE are facing a desperate battle to avoid relegation following a third defeat in four outings, a narrow one point loss to Monaghan in a thrilling Ulster derby at Castleblayney.


A late rally fell just short as the Red Hands battled right to the end against a steadfast home side, but were unable to close a slender gap, and left with nothing to show for their efforts.

After getting off to a slow start, the Ulster champions played their way into the game, and with Lee Brennan kicking accurately from frees, on his way to an eight points tally, they looked capable of overturning a Farney side that had beaten Kerry a week earlier.

But the late arrival of Conor McManus into the action swung the game in the home side's favour, and the long range place-kicking of goalkeeper Rory Beggan was also crucial.

"The small margins made all the difference and when we go back and look at the game we can pick out the main points that need to be worked on. There's definitely a lot to be worked on," said attacker Connor McAliskey.

"It's tough every day in Division One and no different coming here against Monaghan. We just didn't come out of the blocks early on, but worked hard and were in a good position a point up at half-time," he said.

"The chances weren't taken and then Monaghan had a good spell with about 10 minutes to go when they went four points up. It just left us with too much to do and too much of an ask to come back in the last few minutes.

"We were saying at half-time that we were in front despite not playing at any level and letting them take control. There was a confidence that we could push on and get the win, but unfortunately that wasn't the case."

And late on, the Red Hands were punished for errors, and they paid the price as the classy Conor McManus picked off three vital scores.

"You can't get away with making mistakes in Division One against the top teams.

Maybe there were a few handling errors and chances missed. But then Conor McManus came on for them and kicked a couple of big scores. That proved to be the difference in the end because they were taking those big scores," said McAliskey.

This weekend's Ulster derby against Donegal is of massive significance to both counties, and what a contest it promises to be at Healy Park.

"We're sitting with two points in the league and when you're playing Donegal there's no motivation needed," said McAliskey.

"It's a big derby, a massive game in which there's two points up for grabs. We'll need to get them and make the most of the last two games as well."

And if Tyrone fail to get a result, the danger of relegation will be even greater, and with games against Mayo and Kerry still to come, survival will be a massive challenge.

It was Monaghan who started strongly, with Fintan Kelly hitting the first three points of the game as they settled quickly in front of a big crowd at St Mary's Park.

Shane Carey knocked over a free to give them a four points cushion, with Tyrone struggling to get into the game in those early stages.

It wasn't until the tenth minute that midfielder Colm Cavanagh pushed forward to curl over a fine score, and the Red Hands followed up with the first of Brennan's eight points.

As Tyrone began to impose themselves on the contest, Monaghan went almost ten minutes without a score, until goalkeeper Beggan sent a long range free sailing between the uprights.

Colm Walshe added another to give them a 0-6 to 0-2 lead, but Tyrone resisted a couple of threatening raids to go back upfield, and they created a goal chance, but Mattie Donnelly's shot grazed the crossbar on the way over for a point.

Tyrone were now playing with a degree of confidence and creativity, and were finding a way to break the stranglehold placed on them by a packed Monaghan defensive formation.

They dominated the last ten minutes of the second half, hitting four points to go in front, by 0-7 to 0-6, with Brennan and defender Michael McKernan hitting excellent scores to warm the hearts of the Red Hand faithful in the large crowd.

Jack McCarron steered over a free early in the second half, and another Beggan special had Monaghan back in front, but Brennan replied instantly with his fourth pointed free before nailing another free to restore Tyrone's lead.

Another free from the Trillick sharpshooter had the Red Hands in front for the first time, but Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke introduced his own ace finisher off the bench, and Conor McManus didn't disappoint, hitting three crucial scores.

Within seconds of joining the game, he slotted over a free, before Niall Sludden responded for the visitors.

McCarron's free tied the scores up again before a brilliant McManus effort from play had Monaghan back in front with twelve minutes to play.

Ward and another substitute, Owen Duffy, made it four in a row for the home side, and Beggan's third point from a massive free kick left four points between the sides.

But Tyrone responded to the critical position they found themselves in, and hit three late scores. Richie Donnelly and Brennan, with two more frees, narrowed the gap, but they were unable to get that crucial equaliser, and the Farney men closed out the game for a vital win.

Monaghan scorers: Conor McManus (2 frees), Rory Beggan (3 frees), Fintan Kelly 0-3 each, Jack McCarron 0-2 (1 free), Colin Walshe, Dessie Ward, Owen Duffy, Shane Carey 0-1 each.

Tyrone scorers: Lee Brennan 0-8 (8 frees), Peter Harte, Mattie Donnelly, Richie Donnelly, Niall Sludden, Colm Cavanagh, Michael McKernan 0-1 each.

Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Colin Walshe, Conor Boyle, Ryan Wylie; Dessie Mone, Drew Wylie, Vinnie Corey; Darren Hughes, Niall Kearns; Shane Carey, Fintan Kelly, Dessie Ward; Jack McCarron, Thomas Kerr, Conor McCarthy.

Subs: Karl O'Connell for Mone, Kieran Duffy for Walshe, Conor McManus for Kerr, Owen Duffy for Carey, Kieran Hughes for McCarron, Dermot Malone for McCarthy,

Tyrone: Niall Morgan; Michael McKernan, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron; Conor Meyler, Padraig Hampsey, Kieran McGeary; Colm Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly; Conall McCann, Niall Sludden, Peter Harte; Lee Brennan, Richie Donnelly, Connor McAliskey.

Subs: Hugh Pat McGeary for McCarron, Mark Bradley for McAliskey, David Mulgrew for McCann, Darren McCurry for Mulgrew (BC), Padraig McNulty for R Donnelly.

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).


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