Christopher McGuinness’ first half goal proved to be the difference as Monaghan edged out their neighbours Cavan at Clones on Saturday evening last to set up a provincial final meeting with reigning Ulster and All-Ireland Champions Donegal.
The McGuinness goal in the 13th minute came from a poor kick-out from Cavan keeper Conor Gilsenan. The Breffni men then dominated proceedings and were the better team but poor finishing proved costly in the end.
Indeed the Ulster Championship semi-final could have gone to a replay when Monaghan keeper Rory Beggan overcarried the ball near the end but referee Marty Duffy failed to penalise the netminder.
Cavan started the game well and opened the scoring in the 9th minute through Eugene Keating before midfielder David Givney tagged on their second point. Monaghan took the lead minutes later when a mistake by Gilsenan led to McGuinness firing home the game’s only goal.
Points from Givney, Cian Mackey and Niall McDermott restored Cavan’s two point advantage in the 18th minute. Monaghan replied through Kevin Hughes but Cavan hit back to go two in front again.
Two frees from Conor McManus levelled the game before points were traded between Darren Hughes and Martin Dunne to leave the sides all square at the break; 1-5 to 0-8.
It took 11 minutes for the first score of the second half to materialise when McManus fired over a free for Monaghan but that was cancelled out by a free from Niall McDermott. Two minutes later McDermott put Cavan ahead again.
There was very little between the sides but the introduction of Paul Finlay and Dick Clerkin definitely gave Monaghan the impetus and those two players made a major difference. Frees from Finlay and McManus edged Monaghan ahead again before McDermott drew Cavan level.
The game swung in Monaghan’s favour when crucial scores from McManus and Finlay (free) put two between the sides before Cavan then closed the gap to the minimum but time ran out for the unlucky losers.
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan; Dessie Mone, Drew Wylie, Colin Walshe; Vincent Corey, Neil McAdam, Kieran Duffy; Owen Lennon, Darren Hughes (0-1); Stephen Gollogly, Gavin Doogan, Tommy Freeman; Christopher McGuinness (1-0), Kieran Hughes (0-1), Conor McManus (0-6,3f).
Subs:- Paul Finlay (0-2, 2f) for T Freeman (43 mins); Dick Clerkin for G Doogan (49 mins); Karl O’Connell for N McAdam (58 mins); G Doogan for C McGuinness (66 mins); Dermot Malone for S Gollogly (70 mins).
CAVAN: Conor Gilsenan; Jason McLoughlin, Rory Dunne, Killian Clarke; James McEnroe (0-1), Alan Clarke, Ronan Flanagan; Damien O’Reilly, David Givney (0-2); Cian Mackey (0-1), Killian Brady, Fergal Flanagan; Niall McDermott (0-4, 3f), Martin Dunne (0-3, 2f), Eugene Keating (0-1).
Subs:- Martin Reilly for K Brady (46 mins); Tomás Corr for J McEnroe (60 mins); Kevin Tierney for M Dunne (68 mins).
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).