Antrim 0-6 Monaghan 0-11
Fourteen-man Monaghan brushed Antrim’s weak challenge aside with alarming ease to set up an Ulster SFC semi-final against either Fermanagh or Cavan.
In front of their own fans at Casement Park, the Saffrons managed just one point in almost half an hour following dismissal of Farney defender Neil McAdam for second booking early in the second half.
Fortunately for Malachy O’Rourke’s side, their opponents were in disarray following the departure of a number of key players from their squad, for Monaghan were extremely wasteful, kicking 10 wides in the second half.
A dull, uninspiring encounter played out in front of 7,713 spectators at the west Belfast venue may have been the last Ulster Championship game to be played at the famous stadium prior to its redevelopment.
Antrim failed to exploit their numerical advantage in the second half, allowing themselves to be dominated by their depleted opponents.
Conor McManus kicked the opener from a free, but Antrim should have had a goal in the eighth minute when Paddy Cunningham sent Kevin Niblock clear with just the goalkeeper to beat, but the St Gall’s man blazed over the bar.
Antrim, playing with eight defenders, struggled to contain a Monaghan attack that was able to pick off scores with relative ease, Darren Hughes, Paul Finlay and Owen Duffy all on target as they moved into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead by the 21st minute.
Antrim’s laboured approach play saw them run into trouble, allowing their opponents to turn over possession, until midfielder Sean McVeigh decided to adopt a more direct approach, thumping over two excellent long range frees.
With Owen Lennon getting on top at midfield, Monaghan were soon back on the attack, bit poor finishing deprived them of the opportunity to pull clear, and they were further pegged back by a Niblock free.
At the break, Monaghan led by 0-5 to 0-4, but Antrim were level within two minutes of the restart, Paddy Cunningham slotting over a 25-metre free.
The Saffrons lost key attacker Niblock to injury, but Monaghan suffered a major blow when centre back Neil McAdam picked up a second booking four minutes into the second half.
However, Monaghan tightened their grip on the contest, easing into a four points lead with scores from Christopher McGuinness and McManus, with.
Monaghan racked up 10 second half wides, but created enough scoring chances to keep their opponents safely at bay.
Antrim were never able to make anything of their numerical advantage, and went 33 minutes without scoring in the aftermath of McAdam’s dismissal, before Michael Pollock tapped over a stoppage time free.
In the meantime, Monaghan misfired at the other end, managing just two points from a succession of scoring opportunities in the final quarter.
Tommy Freeman came off the bench to squeeze over an acute angle point, and Christopher McGuinness capped an impressive performance with his second score of the afternoon.
Antrim: C Kerr, K O’Boyle, R Johnson, A McClean, S Kelly, J Crozier, P McBride, S McVeigh (0-2), M Johnson, A Healy, P Cunningham (0-1, f), M Sweeney, M Pollock (0-1, f), K Niblock (0-2, 1f), B Herron.
Subs: C Murray for Herron, M Herron for Niblock, R Murray for Cunningham, J Carron for McClean, P Doherty for M Johnson.
Monaghan: R Beggan, K Duffy, F Kelly, C Walshe, D Mone (0-1), N McAdam, D Hughes (0-1), O Lennon, D Clerkin, P Finlay (0-1, f), V Corey, O Duffy (0-1), C McGuinness (0-2), K Hughes, C McManus (0-4, 3f).
Subs: S Gollogly for Clerkin, D Wylie for Kelly, T Freeman (0-1) for Duffy, J McCarron for Finlay
Referee: D Gough (Meath).