By John Fogarty
Donegal 1-11 Monaghan 0-14
Donegal and Monaghan will meet next weekend after a Conor McManus free levelled this Ulster semi-final deep in additional time.
A fisted Christy Toye point put Donegal ahead in the 74th minute after Monaghan had clawed back a two-point deficit following an Ódhran Mac Niallais goal.
Despite losing Martin McElhinney to a black and yellow card combination in the 55th minute and kicking seven second half wides, Donegal pushed on with further scores from Paddy McBrearty and Eoin McHugh.
In front of a handsome 16,287 crowd at Kingspan Breffni Park, theywere able to pick holes with the speed and quality of running lines taken by support players. Ryan McHugh and cousin Eoin were once more to the fore.
Monaghan had led by three points with 20 minutes of normal time remaining but Donegal, who shot some awful second half wides (seven in total), were able to recover from the setback of losing McElhinney who was guilty of a trip. But back Monaghan came with a brace of McManus frees before he and Toye exchanged points in the closing stages.
The sides finished the first half 0-6 apiece having been level on two previous occasions in that period. Donegal first and then Monaghan developed two-point leads but saw those quickly evaporate. The level of physical exchanges was extremely high, McElhinney feeling the effects of an early shoulder from Kieran Hughes before Drew Wylie was levelled by an equally fair challenge from Michael Murphy.
Donegal were ahead after 12 seconds when Murphy fed Karl Lacey for a score and the Donegal captain added one from play in the 10th minute. He was getting the better of Vinny Corey, his arch-nemesis in the exchanges, but Monaghan grew into the game and their urgency with the ball was superior to Donegal’s not to mention how good they were on Donegal’s kick-outs.
Monaghan did end the first half with seven wides to Donegal’s three and were guilty of some wastlefulness in open play too as they attempted to carve opening for goals when points looked the better options. However, between the 16th and 26th minutes, they kicked four points in succession, three of them Conor McManus frees.
In the space of five minutes, McBrearty returned fire with three points, two from frees, before McManus punished an Eamon McGee foul on Conor McCarthy.
Scorers for Donegal: P. McBrearty (0-5, 3 frees); M. Murphy (0-3, 2 frees); O Mac Niallais (1-0); K. Lacey, E. McHugh, C. Toye (0-1 each).
Scorers for Monaghan: C. McManus (0-8, 7 frees); K. O’Connell, C. McCarthy (1 free) (0-2 each); S. Carey, O. Duffy (0-1 each).
DONEGAL: M.A. McGinley; P. McGrath, E. McGee, K. Gillespie; E. McHugh, F. McGlynn, R. McHugh; R. Kavanagh, O. Mac Niallais; K. Lacey, M. McElhinney, A. Thompson; M. O’Reilly, M. Murphy, P. McBrearty.
Subs for Donegal: M. McHugh for F. McGlynn (65); C. Toye for R. Kavanagh (68); E. Gallagher for M. O’Reilly (70+6).
Red card: M. McElhinney (yellow, 21; black, 55).
MONAGHAN: R. Beggan; C. Walshe, V. Corey, D. Wylie; K. Duffy, R. Wylie, D. Hughes; K. O’Connell, F. Kelly; R. McAnespie, O. Duffy, S. Carey; C. McCarthy, K. Hughes, C. McManus.
Subs for Monaghan: D. Mone for D. Wylie, D. McKenna for C. McCarthy (both 58); C. Boyle for C. Walshe (black, 61); J. McCarron for S. Carey (64); D. Clerkin for R. McAnespie (70+2).
Referee: J. McQuillan (Cavan)