Hughes goal helps Monaghan to league title

Monaghan 2-16 Meath 3-8

Hughes goal helps Monaghan to league title

Monaghan 2-16 Meath 3-8

A 68th minute goal from Kieran Hughes paved the way for Monaghan to take Division 3 Allianz Football League success before 7,742 spectators in tonight's final at Croke Park.

Monaghan led by seven points after just 11 minutes, but Meath took a one-point lead in the 41st minute, with a strong start to the second half, including their second goal from Davy Dalton.

However, the Royals rued 11 wides, including seven in the second half as a more composed Monaghan outfit held out to take silverware.

Monaghan were on fire in the opening stages of this game, with five different players contributing early on as Malachy O'Rourke's side claimed a 1-5 to 0-1 lead after just 10 minutes.

Conor McManus opening the Monaghan account after just 40 seconds with the first of his four first-half points, with scores also from play for Christopher McGuinness, Kieran Hughes and Man of the Match Eoin Duffy.

Paddy Gilsenan fired the Royals first score in the eighth minute, but Monaghan were hugely dominant at midfield at this juncture, with Paul Finlay pushing them four points clear, before Duffy bagged the opening goal.

Finlay and Duffy combining before the Latton clubman fired past Meath goalkeeper Paddy O'Rourke to ensure a 1-5 to 0-1 score-line.

Meath quickly woke-up and responded with a goal of their own after corner-forwards Eamonn Wallace and Michael Newman combined, with Wallace sending in a pass off the edge of his boot and Kilmanhamwood clubman Newman making a fine catch, turning and sending the ball past Monaghan's Rory Beggan.

Four points separated the sides at this stage but Monaghan bounced back with two quick-fire points as a brace of McManus scores ensured a 1-7 to 1-1 lead.

Meath cut the deficit to three points by the 21st minute, but Monaghan were strongest before the interval as scores from McManus and Owen Lennon helped them to a 1-9 to 1-5 interval lead.

Meath made a superb start to the second half and inside 80 seconds of the restart tied the game for the first time.

It was the Royals defenders to the fore - firstly Skryne clubman Lenehan popping up for his second point, and then Davy Dalton ensuring Monaghan's goalmouth was breached for a second time.

The Summerhill clubman outpacing Colin Walshe and firing into the Dineen Terrace goalmouth to level the tie at 2-6 to 1-9.

Both sides had chances to take the lead over next four minutes, but McGuinness and Lenehan were erring in front of the posts.

Meath broke in front for the first time in this contest thanks to a Newman point in the 41st minute, but the Royals failed to cement this lead for long.

Paul Finlay's second point levelled the tie two minutes later, but Meath had ample opportunities to regain the lead.

The Leinster outfit's wides tally stood at 10 after 50 minutes, with five missed chances between the 42nd and 50th minute, with Monaghan regaining the lead after Duffy brought his tally to 1-2 in the 49th minute.

Monaghan edged further clear with Finlay claiming his first point from play, but a barren spell followed from both sides between the 52nd and 60th minutes as defences got on top.

Monaghan continued to work hard and were rewarded for their endeavours with quick points from play from Duffy and Lennon to ensured a 1-14 to 2-7 lead with nine minutes left on the clock.

Newman and McManus swap points, before a 66th minute Stephen Bray goal after sending keeper Beggan the wrong way cuts the deficit to the minimum.

But, Monaghan weren't keen to let Meath back into this contest for long and finished strongly with an unanswered 1-1.

Firstly Kieran Hughes netting his sides second goal in the 68th minute after his initial shot was blocked by Paddy O'Rourke.

Then his brother Darren followed up with a superb point deep in injury-time to ensure a five-point win and secure Division 3 silverware.

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; K Duffy, D Wylie, F Kelly; D Hughes (0-1), N McAdam, C Walshe; O Lennon (0-2), D Clerkin; P Finlay (0-3, 2f), K Hughes (1-1), E Duffy (1-3); C McGuinness (0-1), C McManus (0-5, 1f), D Malone. Subs: S Gollogly for Malone (29); D Mone for Clerkin (42); P Donaghy for McManus (53); V Corey for Wylie (55)

MEATH: P O'Rourke; E Harrington, B Menton (0-1), C Young; C Lenehan (0-2), K Reilly, D Dalton (1-0); B Meade, C Gillespie; P Gilsenan (0-1), G Reilly, P Byrne; E Wallace (0-1), S Bray (1-1), M Newman (1-2, 1f). Subs: D Larkin for Gilsenan (28); A Tormey for Reilly (53); S Kenny for Byrne (53); B Dillon for Dalton (56); B Farrell for Bray (66);

Referee: Padraig O'Sullivan (Kerry)

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