Monaghan prevail despite leaking goals

Monaghan 0-21 Fermanagh 2-8

Monaghan 0-21 Fermanagh 2-8

The concession of two late goals could not take the gloss off a handsome Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final win for Monaghan.

Rory Gallagher and Daryl Keenan found the Farney net in the closing stages at Kingspan Breffni Park, but Monaghan had done enough to ease through to a July 18 decider against Tyrone.

Free-taker Paul Finlay pointed four times during a dominant first half display from Monaghan - they led 0-14 to 0-3 at half-time.

Substitute Hugh McElroy got in on the scoring act in the second period and Fermanagh's late rally mattered little in the end.

The one-sided nature of this game was a huge disappointment to the neutrals at the Cavan venue, but Monaghan fans will not have minded as their county side is now just one win away from lifting the Anglo-Celt Cup for the first time since 1988.

Preparation wise, Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney will have been frustrated by what Fermanagh offered in terms of opposition this afternoon, however there were plenty of positives for the victors to take into next month's final.

McEnaney continued with regular full-back Darren Hughes donning the goalkeeper gloves, and Dermot McArdle came in to replace Dessie Mone in the half-back line.

Fermanagh boss Malachy O'Rourke kept the team that saw off Cavan at the quarter-final stage together, with Seamus Quigley, an impressive substitute that day, unfortunate to miss out.

Monaghan used the wind to their advantage in the first half, bossing play after an even enough opening. Points from Finlay, Conor McManus and Damien Freeman had their side 0-3 to 0-1 ahead, before Paul Ward cut the gap for Fermanagh to the minimum.

The Ernesiders missed out on an early goal when Keenan opted to settle for a point when the goal loomed into view. It was an all too rare excursion into the danger area for O'Rourke's men, and leaking the next five points did little for their confidence.

Monaghan's defence and midfield, with the latter area bossed by Eoin Lennon and Stephen Gollogly, had the beating of their opponents and their physicality and pace saw Fermanagh overwhelmed at times.

Points from Gollogly, Finlay (0-2f) and the two Freemans, Damien and Tommy, gave the Farney men some cushion at 0-8 to 0-2. Damien Freeman's deflected shot caught Fermanagh goalkeeper Ronan Gallagher napping and almost resulted in the game's opening goal.

Ward added his second point to give Fermanagh some hope but it was one-way traffic up to half-time as Monaghan strung together six more unanswered points, with Lennon and Dick Clerkin adding their names to the scoresheet.

Quigley was introduced for the second period and although Rory Gallagher kicked Fermanagh's fourth point and Quigley and Ryan Carson also followed with scores, Monaghan replied with four more from Finlay, the very effective McManus, Tommy Freeman and McElroy.

The remaining 25 minutes lacked the intensity of Championship football and Monaghan were content to pick off their scores and conserve their energy on a hot summer's day.

To their credit, Fermanagh kept battling for every ball and adopting a more direct style, they found a way past net minder Hughes. A shot from Gallagher went in off the woodwork for the first goal and a pointed free from the same player cut the gap to ten points - 0-20 to 1-7 - with six minutes to go.

Monaghan boss McEnaney has emptied his bench at that stage and the sight of full-back JP Mone limping off with a leg injury caused some concern.

With Monaghan taking their foot off the pedal, Keenan grabbed a second goal for more consolation for Fermanagh who will need to regroup quickly for the All-Ireland qualifiers.

For McEnaney's side, another encouraging performance has earned them a deserved shot at provincial silverware, and their first Ulster final appearance since 2007 when they lost to upcoming opponents Tyrone (1-15 to 1-13).

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