Donegal 1-11 Monaghan 0-14

Donegal and defending champions Monaghan will have to meet again after finishing level on 1-11 to 0-14 in their Ulster SFC semi-final at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Conor McManus came to the Farney County’s rescue with three late frees, after their 14-man opponents had pushed ahead with an Odhran MacNiallais goal on 55 minutes.

In a gripping encounter, the outcome was always in the balance, and another tight contest has restored the reputation of the northern provincial series as the toughest of them all, with both semi-finals now requiring replays.

Karl Lacey had the Donegal men ahead inside 12 seconds, and with Michael Murphy taking up a more advanced role than usual, they appeared to be set up to attack.

Murphy doubled the lead, before Shane Carey got the Farney County off the mark in the tenth minute.

Darren Hughes released Carey on goal, but Marty O’Reilly got back to make a vital tackle, and set his side back on the attack, with Murphy making it 0-03 to 0-01 from a free.

Monaghan danger man Conor McManus was unsurprisingly double-teamed by marker Paddy McGrath and auxiliary defender Anthony Thompson, who popped up to make his presence felt wherever the threat arose.

But McManus was unerringly accurate from placed balls, converting three to give his side the lead for the first time in the 24th minute.

At the other end, Paddy McBrearty suddenly exploded into the game after a quiet opening,

hitting three points in the space of five minutes, two from frees, to nudge Donegal back in front.

The battle between Vinny Corey and Murphy was perhaps the most intriguing of many in a tense, sometimes fractious contest, and the Monaghan defender intervened superbly to deny the Donegal skipper late in the half.

Nothing could separate the sides, with McManus hitting his fourth free to tie it up at 0-06 each in stoppage time.

Donegal debutant Ciaran Gillespie was denied a goal by Rory Beggan’s fine save early in the second half, and at the other end, McManus drifted over to the right wing to float over a delightful point.

Murphy was having an off-night with his place-kicking, and after dropping one short, he saw Monaghan counter for Karl O’Connell to open out a two-point lead.

Midfielder O’Connell finished off a well worked move for his second score soon afterwards, and Rory Gallagher’s side was under pressure, with McBrearty also failing from a free-kick.

Donegal’s attacking problems were accentuated by the dismissal of Martin McElhinney in the 55th minute. He had already been booked and could not be replaced after picking up a black card for an off-the-ball challenge on Drew Wylie.

Moments later, however, they were back in front, Odhran Mac Niallais collecting O’Reilly’s pass to slide the ball low to the net past Beggan.

Eoin McHugh and McBrearty tagged on points and 14-man Donegal led by two as the clock ticked past the 70-minute mark.

However, they were pegged back by a courageous Farney side who had McManus in terrific form from frees. He slotted over three, including a superb effort from 50 metres, and a leveller in the sixth minute of stoppage time to tie it up.

Monaghan: R Beggan, C Walshe, D Wylie, R Wylie, F Kelly, V Corey, K Duffy, K O’Connell (0-02), D Hughes, S Carey (0-01), O Duffy (0-01), R McAnespie, C McCarthy (0-02, 1f), K Hughes, C McManus (0-08, 1f)

Subs: D Mone for D Wylie, D McKenna for McCarthy, C Boyle for Walshe (BC), J McCarron for Carey, D Clerkin for McAnespie

Donegal: MA McGinley, P McGrath, E McGee, C Gillespie, R McHugh, F McGlynn, K Lacey (0-01), R Kavanagh, O MacNiallais (1-00), A Thompson, M McElhinney, E McHugh (0-01), P McBrearty (0-05, 3f), M Murphy (0-03, 2f), M O’Reilly

Subs: M McHugh for McGlynn, C Toye (0-01) for Kavanagh, E Gallagher for Toye

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)