By Mike Fitzpatrick
This was the one everyone had anticipated with baited breath. Unquestionably two of the most exciting football sides in New York face-to-face in a senior Div. 1 clash had all the ingredients of a thrilling game. Despite possessing three Intercounty players from Kildare on the Donegal side, the players who really stood out were home-based footballers.
Monaghan’s live-wire forward Eddie Murphy, clearly held no fears concerning Anthony Rainbow, and gave the highly talented Leinster Championship winner a thorough roasting in the first half Sunday at Gaelic Park in the Bronx.
Donegal’s regular players, such as Edmund Cleary, Gary Dowd and Pierce Coyle, all shone for the Ulster side, clearly displaying the popular opinion that it any team need players flown in from home, it’s not Donegal.
Monaghan opened as the stronger side, with Kieran Tavey shooting a goal and two points for Seamus Dooley’s men before Donegal managed to get themselves on the scoresheet.
The game, however, took a turn for the worse as early as the fourth minute when both sides had players sent off for successive ugly incidents, and the dismissals of Monaghan’s Noel McEntee and Donegal’s Keith Murray left 14 men on both sides. A number of bookings swiftly followed in the first half hour threatening to destroy any hopes we had of an exciting game of free flowing football.
Follow us on social media
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo
Although Donegal were favorites for the tie, Monaghan were by far the stronger side in the earlier stages of the contest, with Hughie Sullivan getting the better of Niall Buckley in midfield, and the two Pauls,, McEntee and McGlynn, surging forward to assist Murphy up front.
Donegal began to get things together midway through the half, with a number of players getting on the scoresheet. The entire full forward line of Coyle, Stephen Cassidy and Cleary all hit first half points following an effort by Monaghan’s McGlynn to leave the sides tied at half time. Although Monaghan’s fighting spirit did them proud in the first half, a second half turnaround provided Donegal with possibly one of the hardest fought victories they’ve had in recent times.
The half opened with a frustrated Monaghan falling behind thanks to five consecutive points without reply from Kieran Keaveney, Coyle, Cassidy and Cleary. Rainbow’s Kildare colleague Niall Buckley really came into the game in the second half, having had something of an anonymous first-half performance thanks to Dan Scott and Sullivan’s commanding midfield presence, and hit three points for Donegal. Monaghan were clearly rattled, though they kept plugging away, with McEntee hitting another effort, and a fantastic goal from midfielder O’Sullivan which screamed past Enda Lohan to lift the disheartened Monaghan support. What killed the game for Monaghan, though, were three second-half goals from Cleary, Keaveney and a punched effort from Gary Dowd which caught the Monaghan backs by surprise. It ended as a 12-point victory for Donegal, though I feel that this may have flattered them a little. Donegal are now clearly the favorites for glory this season, but write Monaghan off at your peril.
Donegal: Enda Lohan, Keith Nolan, Damian Meehan, Keith Murray, Anthony Rainbow, Glenn Ryan, Gerry Kelly, Niall Buckley (0-3), David McSweeny, Gary Dowd (1-1), Kieran Keaveney (1-1), Tadhg O’Donovan (0-1), Edmund Cleary (1-4), Stephen Cassidy (0-2), Pierce Coyle (0-4). Subs: Raymond Kane, Connie Molloy, Mark McClafferty.
Monaghan: Damian Doherty, Gary Birdy, Peter Coyle, Stephen Rush, Bernard Treanor, Bonnie Duffy, Mickey Treanor, Hughie Sullivan (1-0), Dan Scott, Noel McEntee, Kieran Tavey (1-3), Paul McEntee (0-2), Paul McGlynn (0-1), Emmet McCormack, Eddie Murphy. Subs: Brian McKenna (0-1), P.J. Rogers.