Monaghan 0-13 Down 0-11

Monaghan just about held out in a frenetic finish for a 0-13 to 0-11 win over a resurgent Down at St Tiarnach's Park, as the hosts made it two wins from two outings in Division 1 of the Allianz Football League.

Down came to Clones on the back of a 17-point drubbing by Donegal in their opening game, and manager Eamon Burns’ troubles didn’t end there, as injuries and suspension forced him to make five changes and to reshuffle his deck.

Ryan Johnston was added to the list of injuries with a shoulder problem and Donal O’Hare, who was their best forward on what was a miserable night in Newry last time out, was red carded in the dying embers rendering him ineligible and his loss was a substantial one.

The changes saw Aidan Carr, Darragh O’Hanlon, Conaill McGovern, Connaire Harrison and Shay McArdle coming in for their first taste of league action.

Malachy O’Rourke, on the other hand, made two changes to the team that started against Roscommon, with Conor Boyle coming in for Ryan Wylie and Ryan McAnespie replacing Dessie Mone. 

Played in bitterly cold and wet conditions, this was a game that got off to a cracking start with Down opening up a two-point lead after just five minutes through Connaire Harrison and Daragh O’Hanlon.

They went on to dominate the opening quarter, at the end of which they led by 0-05 to 0-03, with Monaghan opening their account through Owen Duffy in the sixth minute.

Points by Conor McManus and Ryan McAnespie brought Monaghan level by the 21st minute and they went on to add three more in quick succession from Thomas Kerr, Dermot Malone and Owen Duffy from a very acute angle to open a three-point lead.

Shay McArdle pulled one back for the Mourne men but Monaghan were now in control and a point by Fintan Kelly in stoppage time saw them lead by three at the break, 0-09 to 0-06.    

On the resumption, Monaghan picked up where they had left off at the break and extended their lead to five, with points by Shane Carey and Ryan McAnespie, and five still separated them entering the final quarter.

From there to the finish, though, it was backs to the wall, as Down really upped their game and were in a position to take the spoils, but a combination of last ditch defending by Monaghan and Down missing crucial chances meant they could only close the gap to two points as Monaghan held out for victory. 

Monaghan: R Beggan 0-1 (’45), C Walshe, C Boyle, R Wylie, R McAnespie 0-2, K Duffy, F Kelly 0-1, N McAdam, D Hughes, K O’Connell, D Malone 0-1, T Kerr 0-1, S Carey 0-2, O Duffy 0-2, C McManus 0-2 (1f).

Subs: R Wylie for C Boyle (48), D McKenna 0-1 for O Duffy (55), K Hughes for K O’Connell (56), S Gollogly for D Malone (65), D Mone for F Kelly (74).

Down: S Kane, R Boyle, G McGovern, M Magee, M Hughes, A Carr, D O’Hanlon 0-3(1f), P Turley, H Brown, J Murphy, M Poland, K McKernan, c McGovern, C Harrison 0-4 (3f), S McArdle 0-2.

Subs: S Dornan for M Poland (40), P Downey 0-1 for S McArdle (56), L Howard for M Hughes (57), R Mallon for J Murphy (63),  M McKay 0-1 for P Turley (66). Referee: C Reilly (Meath).