Monaghan were hit by the injury bug before the game, keeping their fine fullback Bonnie Duffy on the sideline, although he would later come in to do his part. They also were forced to do without the services of Martin Slowey. Slowey took a hard knock and struggled to continue before reluctantly limping off after 25 minutes.
Monaghan jumped out on top early with a point from Darren Quinn, who played a big role for Monaghan with his ball-winning skills all over the pitch. Michael Slowey followed with a pointed free, but Clare came right back at them.
Gary Dowd, very lively especially early, fed Conrad Murphy for the Banner’s first score, and then full forward Pauric Hurley walloped over a fantastic free from the ground from 45 yards at the sideline. Hughie O’Sullivan, Monaghan’s often overlooked midfielder, was in dynamic form and he got great support from his young Irish American partner Ruari O’Neill as Monaghan got the upper hand in this vital sector.
Slowey and Tighe Fenin punished Clare with their free-taking abilities while Clare got points from Dowd, Hurley, and Stephen Flynn to try and keep in touch. Monaghan just about deserved their 0-9 to 0-5 halftime lead, but with 35 minutes a half for all Senior Finals, there was plenty of time to play.
With that in mind, Clare stormed out of the blocks to start the second half with an excellent point from Alan Kavanagh after a long solo run. Stephen Flynn quickly tacked on another and three minutes from the restart Clare were back within 0-2.
Then just as quickly the deficit was back up to five. Tighe Fenin, whose Man of the Match performance versus Offaly put Monaghan in this final, fielded a perfect pass from sub Paul McGlynn and drove home the only goal of the game.
Again Clare showed the heart to fight-back, rubbing out Fenin’s goal with three consecutive points. McGlynn and Fenin combined again for Monaghan, this time for a Fenin point and now a goal stood between the sides.
Clare’s Hurley pointed a free, but the powerful full forward, so successful against Mayo in the semifinal, was erratic with his frees and it hurt Clare. Monaghan’s Martin Slowey checked back into the match, though still visibly hobbling, playing cornerback instead of his usual wingback. Clare center back Mike Louther pushed forward to add another Clare point, and the Banner were within a single score.
With the game on the line, Mickey Slowey began to play more of a ball-winning role and lifted Monaghan just as Clare threatened to upend the Farneymen’s Championship aspirations.
Paul McGlynn, so effective off the bench, banged over a great point for Monaghan, but it was still not celebration time as Clare continued to fight for their championship dream. As Clare stormed the Monaghan citadel, Martin Slowey, fittingly, fielded, snuffing out the Bannermen’s last chance and sending Monaghan into delirium.
Man of the Match: Hughie O’Sullivan
Monaghan: Dave Ballantine, Brian McKenna, Paul Rushe, Louis Breslin, Brian Lacey, Bernard Traenor, Martin Slowey, Hughie O’Sullivan, Ruari O’Neill, Paddy Skeath, Michael Slowey (0-4, 3 frees), Garreth Treanor, Declan McIntee, Tighe Finin (1-4, 2 frees), Darren Quinn (0-2). Subs: Bonnie Duffy, Mickey Art Treanor, Damien Clerkin, Paul McGlynn (0-1).
Clare: Owen O’Loughlin, Brian Cooney, Paul O’Connor, Niall Corbett, Alan Kavanagh (0-1), Mike Louther (0-1), Paddy Barry, Cathal Loughane, Graeme Canty (0-1), Gary Dowd (0-1), Conrad Murphy (0-1), Tadgh Foley, Stephen Flynn (0-2), Pauric Hurley (0-5, 4 frees), Owen Coveney. Sub: Joe Egan.