By Frank Brady
The last game of the day Sunday at Gaelic Park pitted joint league leaders Monaghan against a Cork team desperately needing a win to keep up its playoff hopes alive. Despite failing in that mission, they battled admirably in the second half to gain a share of the spoils with the Farney men.
Monaghan started strongly and had Cork under pressure from the throw in. In the third minute, Martin Slowey seemed bent on taking over the scoring duties usually performed by his absent brother, Michael, as he covered over half the field on one of his signature solo runs before plotting the ball in the net.
Indeed, Monaghan had several chances to extend their lead but they squandered them with abandon. However despite some majestic fielding by the Cork midfielder Pat Mahoney, the Cork forwards were having difficulty finding the target too.
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Bonnie Duffy, though busy at full forward, had seen little reward for his efforts until he cleverly set up Declan McEntee for Monaghan’s second goal.
Halfway through the first period the scoreline looked more like that of a soccer game as it read two goals to nil. It almost read three to nil as Hughie O’Sullivan intercepted a Cork attack and Slowey took off again but his effort was deflected by the keeper and knocked over the bar by Rory O’Neill.
Brendan Wiley opened Cork’s account after 17 minutes and Cork’s best player, Pat Mahoney, then lopped a sideline ball to the edge of the square, which was finished to the net by Dennis Kiely. Slowey again took off on another attack, only to be fouled on the 21, which Declan McEntee then slotted over the bar to make it 2-2 to 1-1. Cork had sprang to life and were afforded a golden opportunity when C.J. Doherty was hauled down for a penalty. However, his effort was straight at the keeper.
Cork maintained the momentum in the second half as Barry Brennan shot over a point. However, Bonnie Duffy and Paddy Skeath replied for Monaghan before Stephen O’Shea and Darren Quinn exchanged points in a seesaw second half. The game become much more of a contest and the Cork mentors erupted as Tadgh O’Callaghan was whistled for overcarrying as they thought a penalty was in order. Sean Flynn began to look the super sub as he slotted over two points to leave two points between the sides.
Cork now began to sense an upset after a dismal start as big Pat Mahoney narrowed the gap but McEntee seemed to have the insurance point for Monaghan as he brought the lead back to two. Then Mike McCarthy goaled for Cork to put them in front for the first time with just minutes left. However, Martin Slowey stole Cork’s thunder as his piledriver free was deflected over the bar to tie up the game.
It certainly was a game of two halves: the first pedestrian, the second interesting.
Men of the match: Pat Mahoney and Martin Slowey.
Monaghan: Simon Sheridan, Garreth Duffy, Paul Rush, Louis Breslin, Brian McKenna, Bernard Traynor, Martin Slowey (1-1), Hughie O’Sullivan, John Lydon, Darren Quinn (0-1) Rory O’Niell(0-1) Paddy Skeath (0-1), Declan McEntee (1-2), Bonnie Duffy (0-1), Thomas Leonard.
Cork: Jeremy Holland, David O’Keefe, Seamus Foley, Andy Mullens, Sean Healy, Liam Hanly, Paddy Harrington, Pat Mahoney (0-1), C.J. Doherty (0-1), Barry Brennan (0-1), Stephen O’Shea(0-1), Brendan Wiley (0-1), Mike McCarthy (1-0), Dennis Kiely (1-0), Tadgh O’Callaghan. Sub: Sean O’Flynn (0-2).