Monaghan coasted to a 1-18 to 1-13 results over Armagh in Clones to book an Ulster Final meeting with Donegal in two weeks.
Corner forward Conor McManus’ first Championship goal and seven points saw them secure a place in the Ulster final against Donegal while Armagh are left with a qualifier date with Tyrone next week.
Tony Kernan kicked Armagh into a two-minute lead but Monaghan fired two points over in quick succession through Darren Hughes to put the Farney men ahead, the first a superb long range effort. Armagh looked lively with Andy Mallon, Kieran Toner and Brendan Donaghy returning from suspension and were back in front when Aaron Findon punched home after Aidan Forker smashed an effort against the crossbar for a 0-2 to 1-1 after 11 minutes.
Following a poor wide, Conor McManus pointed from play before Paul Finlay’s free levelled matter on 17 minutes. Rory Beggan scored five points in last week’s drawn game and put Monaghan back in front with a free, 0-5 to 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Armagh suffered a bow when Finnian Moriarty was black carded for a trip and McManus fired home the resulting free while Armagh kicked their third wide. McManus was more affective this week and kicked a point from play under pressure before Kernan responded for Armagh; 0-7 to 1-2. Kieran Hughes then provided the creativity for McManus to hit the back of net as Monaghan got the upper hand. Kernan kicked a free which Stephen Gollogly quickly cancelled out with a point from play but a late score from Eugene McVerry saw Armagh trail 1-8 to 1-4 at the break.
Chris McGuinness was introduced for Kieran Hughes at half-time and Monaghan off the mark a minute after the restart. Beggan knocked over his second free before Kernan got Armagh’s first point of the half. But Malachy O’Rourke side’s lead was never in doubt with Dermot Malone, Dick Clerkin and Finlay adding points from play for a seven point, 1-13 to 1-6, lead 12 minutes into the second-half.
Armagh got three quick scores through two Jamie Clarke scores and another Kernan free narrowing the margin to four, 1-13 to 1-9, 20 minutes of the second-half. Finlay and two McManus scores pushed the margin back out to seven as Monaghan were able to lift the tempo when needed.
Kernan and McManus traded frees as the game entered the final 10 minutes while Clarke brought the deficit back to six. McManus rounded off a superb performance with another fine point, giving Monaghan a 1-18 to 1-11 lead with late scores from Kernan and Clarke as Monaghan ran out five-point winners, 1-18 to 1-13 to set up a replay of last year’s Ulster Final.
Monaghan: Rory Beggan (0-2); Ryan Wylie, Drew Wylie, Colin Walshe; Dessie Mone, Vinny Corey, Fintan Kelly; Dick Clerkin (0-1), Darren Hughes (0-2); Paul Finlay (0-3), Stephen Gollogly (0-1), Paudie McKenna, Dermot Malone (0-1), Kieran Hughes (Chris McGuinness 0-1 on 35), Conor McManus (1-7).
Armagh: Phillip McEvoy; James Morgan, Charlie Vernon, Finnian Moriarty; Mark Shields, Brendan Donaghy, Ciaran McKeever; Kieran Toner, Aaron Findon (1-0); Eugene McVerry (0-1), Kevin Dyas, Stefan Campbell; Aidan Forker, Tony Kernan (0-7), Jamie Clarke (0-5).
After overcoming Tyrone in the Ulster Championship quarter-final, Monaghan were expected to cruise past Armagh, but were frustrated for large parts. Their attacking threats were curtailed by poor passing, with the final ball not good enough. They were limited up front after the dismissal of Conor McManus for a black card offense nine minutes after half-time. But having been three points up, they should have killed the game off.
Armagh cast Cavan aside in their opening game of the Ulster Championship, but weren’t tested with their opponents failing to score in 40 minutes of football proving crucial. Their defensive qualities were again on show last week against Monaghan with the threat of Conor McManus and Kieran Hughes nullified for the most part. They dug deep at the death to claw back the deficit and force a replay.
Dessie Mone v Kevin Dyas
Monaghan’s Dessie Mone has become integral to the Farney men success and the switch last week on Dyas after the Armagh man had run Vinny Corey ragged. Mone’s attacking threat and defensive qualities were key against Tyrone and are sure to be in demand again this week to put Malachy O’Rourke’s men back into the Ulster final.
Kevin Dyas managed just one point last week and was kept quiet by Mone when switched on him. His influence could help Armagh kick on. There has been a severe lack of inspiration to repeat the success of 2008, the last time Armagh lifted the Ulster crown, but if Dyas can have a good day, it will go a long way in helping the Orchard County to an Ulster Final rather than the qualifiers.
Armagh will have Andy Mallon, Kieran Toner and Brendan Donaghy all available after they served one-match suspensions for their involvement in the brawl before their clash with Cavan. Monaghan meanwhile restore Chris McGuinness and Paudie McKenna to the starting lineup.
Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Kieran Duffy, Drew Wylie, Colin Walshe; Dessie Mone, Vinny Corey, Fintan Kelly; Dick Clerkin, Darren Hughes; Ryan Wylie, Chris McGuinness, Paudie McKenna, Dermot Malone, Kieran Hughes, Conor McManus.
Monaghan were unlucky to miss out on victory in their semi-final last week and won’t make the same mistake. Armagh will be buoyed by the return of Mallon, Toner and Donaghy but they don’t have enough quality to outclass Monaghan. They experience of last year’s Ulster Championship success will stand to them and they will do enough to get past Armagh with five points to spare.