By Francis Mooney
Donegal 0-17 Monaghan 2-10
Donegal will appear in their sixth successive Ulster SFC final, thanks to a hard-earned one point win over Monaghan in a gripping replay at Kingspan Breffni Park.
Mark Anthony McGinley of Donegal celebrates his side's victory following the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay between Donegal and Monaghan at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Despite conceding two first half goals, the men from the north-west wore their opponents down and nailed the vital scores, leading from start to finish, and holding out despite having to play the final ten minutes with 14 men, following the second yellow card dismissal of Rory Kavanagh.
Skipper Michael Murphy failed to score from play, but his five points were crucial, along with his leadership qualities during a tense finish.
Marty O’Reilly, so often the unsung hero, delivered another tireless, selfless display, and helped himself to three well taken points from play.
Donegal’s final opponents will be either Tyrone or Cavan, who meet in the other semi-final replay on Sunday, while Monaghan have home advantage at Clones next weekend against Longford.
Donegal pressed forward in numbers, with Murphy taking up an advanced attacking position, and their positive approach saw them go five clear inside the opening quarter.
Rory Kavanagh, Anthony Thompson, Martin McElhinney and Paddy McBrearty were all on target, with Murphy converting a ’45.
Monaghan had four wides on the board, including frees from Rory Beggan and Conor McManus, by the time Shane Carey nailed their opening score in the 17th minute.
But two minutes later, they were right back in it, when Carey rifled low to the net after collecting a quickly taken McManus free.
The Donegal men reacted well to the setback, and another volley of scores, including frees from Murphy and McBrearty, restored their four points cushion.