By Mike Fitzpatrick
Seamus Dooley’s Monaghan side stormed into this season with an enormously convincing Div. 1 football victory over Cork at Gaelic Park on Sunday. This side provided the crowd at the park with one of the most impressive displays of teamwork seen here in some time. It became obvious in the early stages of the game that the Monaghan lads had been impatiently waiting for their season to begin, and once the whistle blew, these guys were on fire.
Paul McGlynn opened the scoring with an early point for Monaghan, and was quickly followed onto the scoreboard by his teammate Eddie Murphy to give their side a 2-point lead. Murphy, meanwhile, had a goal disallowed, much to the Cork bench’s relief, but this was really merely a postponement of the inevitable as Emmet McCormack hit a goal that did register only minutes after Murphy’s effort. Cork fought back through Keith Smith, Stevie Quinn and Sean O’Flynn, who all hit points for the Munster side, though try as they might, they could not seem to penetrate the Monaghan back line of an on-form Dan Scott, Stevie Rush and Gary Birdy. Murphy put his earlier disappointment of the disallowed goal behind him as he hit a screamer past Paddy O’Sullivan in the Cork posts to give his side a 3-point lead going into the interval. Despite Jimmy O’Flynn’s late point in the first half for Cork, a resurgence was not to be. The second half was all Monaghan.
Whatever was said to the Monaghan players at halftime by the management should be recorded and kept for posterity, for, whereas they left the starting blocks like Carl Lewis, a shaky Cork side appeared more like Jerry Lee Lewis, and as the half wore on, there was a "whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on." Try as they might the Cork midfield appeared tired, and despite the best efforts of Tom O’Riordan at the heart of Cork’s defense, he or Ken Delanty could do very little to stem the flow that was the Monaghan attack. McGlynn scored his second of the afternoon, followed by efforts from Murphy, Hughie O’Sullivan, and P.J. Rogers, who latched onto a great pass from Emmet McCormack to hit a point for his team.
Monaghan, despite venturing into a virtually unassailable lead, did not relax. Substitute Paul McAntee hit a couple of points, and, along with his namesake Noel, and Sullivan again, the Ulster men were truly motoring. Cork’s Jimmy O’Flynn hit his side’s sole point of the second half with a well-taken effort, following some good work from Hynan, who, despite being on the losing side, had a game he should be no means be ashamed of.
More points followed from Sullivan, Murphy and McGlynn, but the score of the game was left to Murphy. Latching onto a badly struck kickout from the Cork goal line, Murphy grabbed the ball and cheekily lobbed Cork goalkeeper O’Sullivan for his second goal of the game. A convincing win for Monaghan, who will surely look to grab more silverware this season. Cork, however, must pick themselves up. They clearly have the players, but many more serious second-half collapses like this one and they could find themselves in trouble.
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Monaghan: Damian Doherty, Gary Birdy, Dan Scott, Stevie Rush, Mickey Traynor (0-1), Bernard Traynor, Brian McKenna, Hughie Sullivan (0-3), Brendan Duffy, Noel McAntee (0-1), Paul McGlynn (0-4), Louis Breslin, P.J. Rogers (0-1), Eddie Murphy (2-3), Emmet McCormack (1-0). Subs: Duane McAleer, Michael Fitzpatrick, Paul McAntee (0-2).
Cork: Paddy O’Sullivan, Ken Delanty, Tom O’Riordan, Joe Sullivan, Tom Fitzgibbon, John O’Donovan, Denis Mahoney, Denis Kiely, Dale Hynan (0-1), Sean O’Flynn (0-3), Keith Smith (0-1), Steve Quinn (0-1), Brendan Wiley, Tom Morrissey, John Paul Kiely (0-1).