Wicklow were hopelessly outclassed as Monaghan eased through to the second round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers with a 2-19 to 3-06 at Clones.
The Farney men led 2-09 to no score at the interval at St. Tiernach’s Park. Tommy Freeman, who top-scored with 1-08, found the Wicklow net in the 24th-minute, and helped play in Rory Woods for Monaghan’s second major in injury time.
A Jonathan Daniels free opened Wicklow’s account on 37 minutes. Goals followed from Garrett Doyle and Leighton Glynn, but a silly red card for Wesley Callaghan halted Wicklow’s comeback bid. They did manage a final goal from sub Andy Halpin though.
Freeman and Woods hit 1-03 and 1-01 respectively in the opening period to see Monaghan boss the game.
Wicklow, and in particular Newtown clubman Doyle, made use of some slack marking in the second half to get off the ground. A point from midfielder Dick Clerkin edged Monaghan 2-10 to no score clear.
But Doyle helped rally his side with a soccer-style goal from the edge of the square on 41 minutes. Doyle set up Leighton Glynn for Wicklow’s second major, six minutes later, but full-forward Callaghan’s straight red card for a dangerous high shoulder challenge on Monaghan midfielder Brendan McKenna really dented the Garden county charge.
A brace of points from Woods and Freeman helped Monaghan cut into the damage that the Wicklow goals had caused. Between 51 and 58 minutes, four points on the bounce from Freeman and one each from Paul Finlay and Damien Freeman left Wicklow floundering.
As Monaghan began thinking about their next day out, Halpin slipped in for a deserved goal, but there was little for Wicklow supporters amongst the 3,078 crowd to cheer on another barren afternoon for their team.
Monaghan: S Duffy; D McArdle, J Coyle, C Flanagan; D Freeman (0-02), G McQuaid, D Morgan; B McKenna, D Clerkin (0-02); J McElroy, P Finlay (0-02), S Gollogly (0-01); T Freeman (1-08), R Woods (1-02), E Duffy (0-02).
Subs used: K Hanratty for P Finlay, K Sheerin for D Freeman, E Lennon for R Woods, K McManus for T Freeman.
Wicklow: R Daniels; C Hyland, D Power, B Daly; K Manning, S Cush, C Foley; J Stafford, K Kelly; P Dalton, L Glynn (1-02), J Daniels (0-04); P Cronin, W Callaghan, G Doyle (1-00).
Subs used: A Foley for P Dalton, JP Dalton for K Kelly, S Byrne for J Stafford, A Halpin (1-00) for B Daly, A Foley for P Cronin.
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).