A Kevin McManamon goal, not for the first time, made him the hero tonight in Croke Park against Monaghan
Dublin, who trailed for the entire game, clawed back a nine point deficit to claim a draw and a share of the points.
Monaghan came with a game plan that worked for almost 70 minutes. And it looked like they’d make it three football league wins against Dublin on the bounce. But a missed ‘45 and a late Davey Byrne point in the dying seconds of additional time was enough to give see Dessie Farrell’s side remain unbeaten in the National Football League
Monaghan raced into early commanding lead
— The GAA (@officialgaa) February 8, 2020
There wasn’t a minute gone when Conor McManus found himself in oceans of space, slotting the ball under Evan Comerford with ease to get Monaghan up and running with a green flag. And by the 5th they were 1-01 to 0-01 ahead when Michael Banningan sent one over after a Dean Rock converted free.
Bannigan was on target again a minute later, but Monaghan retreated, putting 12 and 13 behind the ball pre-empting an oncoming Dublin press. It didn’t happen, Dublin lost Paddy Andrews to injury. And Dessie Ward gave the visitors a five point lead with 9 minutes on the clock.
Ryan McAnespie and Niall Kearns made that seven, with Dublin struggling to string passes together. Attack after attack broken down as Monaghan abundantly defended and counter attacked. McManus was on target in the 20th scoring an impossible point, and Ryan McAnespie made it a 9 point game before Dan O’Brien got Dublin’s second score on 22 minutes.
Weather plays havoc with wides and short balls
Dean Rock, Ciaran Kilkenny, Brian Fenton and Aaron Byrne all saw shots fall short or wide in a very strange half, with the blanket soaking everything up on an extremely wet and windy night.
Rory Beggan sent a huge free over to stretch Monaghan’s lead out. Dublin continued to mount an attack, but every time they were met by a wall of white and blue.
With five to go Conor McCarthy tagged another on and there was 10 between the sides.
Dan O’Brien had Dublin’s best chance of the half bearing down on goal but the two Monaghan defenders twisted and turned him inside out. Dean Rock sent a score over before the half time whistle was blown leaving Dublin nine points adrift at the break.
Dublin’s mental strength dragged them through a gruelling second period
Rock resumed with the first of the second half, converting a free for a foul on Ciaran Kilkenny. The Castleknock man followed soon after with his own, from play, as Dublin mounted a comeback. And when Rock scored again from the resulting kick out, things were looking a lot more positive for the All Ireland Champions.
Another long range conversion from Beggan kept the board ticking over. And at the other end James McCarthy was brought down to give Rock another scoring opportunity, which he ably converted. A sliced shot from McCarthy brought Dublin’s next score as it hit the upright on the right side and over. But a score from a mark from Conor McManus against left the deficit for Dublin at seven.
A McManus free and a Beggan converted ‘45 again put nine between the sides as time seemed to be running out for Dublin. Substitute Sean Bugler clawed one back, and Rock quickly followed that with another dead ball conversion. Niall Scully wriggled his way through three white shirts to add another with six minutes of normal time to spare.
Conor Boyle drove from defence to beat Michael Fitzsimons and score, with Colm Basquel cancelling it out.
McManamon adds to his Croke Park goal tally
— The GAA (@officialgaa) February 8, 2020
Drama ensued as Kevin McManamon caught a loose ball in the square to round Beggan, giving Dublin a goal and a much needed lifeline. And when Sean Bugler scored from the resulting kick out there was only 2 points between the sides as the game hit additional time. Bugler was on target again halfway through the extra minutes.
Beggan had the chance to convert a ‘45 right at the death and secure the win for Monaghan. And he’ll have been massively disappointed to see it drift wide. On Dublin’s last drive through the rain, Davey Byrne stepped up as the hero, levelling the game giving his side a share of the points.
Scorers for Dublin:
Dean Rock 0-06 (5f)
Kevin McManamon 1-00
Sean Bugler 0-03
Ciaran Kilkenny 0-01
Dan O’Brien 0-01
Davy Byrne 0-01
James McCarthy 0-01
Niall Scully 0-01
Colm Basquel 0-01
Scorers for Monaghan:
Conor McManus 1-04 (3f)
Rory Beggan 0-03 (3f)
Ryan McAnespie 0-02 (1m)
Micheal Bannigan 0-02
Conor McCarthy 0-01
Dessie Ward 0-01
Conor Boyle 0-01
Niall Kearns 0-01
1. Evan Comerford
2. Michael Fitzsimons
3. David Byrne
4. Eoin Murchan
5. James McCarthy
6. Brian Howard
7. John Small
8. Brian Fenton
9. Ciarán Kilkenny
10. Niall Scully
23. Dara Mullin
24. Dan O’Brien
20. Liam Flatman
14. Paddy Andrews
15. Dean Rock
Aaron Byrne for Paddy Andrews (11)
Paul Mannion for Dara Mullin (HT)
Sean Bugler for Liam Flatman (41)
Colm Basquel for Dan O’Brien (52)
Kevin McManamon for Aaron Byrne (59)
1. Rory Beggan
2. Drew Wylie
3. Conor Boyle
4. Kieran Duffy
5. Karl O’Connell
6. Ryan Wylie
7. Michael Bannigan
8. Darren Hughes
9. Niall Kearns
10. Ryan McAnespie
11. Conor McCarthy
12. Dessie Ward
13. Dermot Malone
26. Kieran Hughes
15. Conor McManus
Aaron Mulligan for Michael Bannigan (48)
Shane Carey for Kieran Hughes (59)
Christopher McGuinness for Conor McCarthy (64)
Paraic Keenan for Dessie Ward (72)
Kieran Hughes for Niall Kearns (73)