Monaghan again falter under the weight of the favorites while Derry combine ambition with flair
More energy, more speed, more serenity. A deserved winner yesterday in Armagh, Derry marched into their first Ulster final in 11 years in what will be a repeat of their last appearance against Donegal in 2011. Monaghan, not for the first time in recent years, withered under the flag of favourites.
or some of the older players, this one will hurt the most. Such opportunities are hard earned.
The old adage ‘goals win games’ has never been truer in a competition where Derry’s three majors ultimately proved the difference.
Monaghan, on the other hand, hardly threatened Derry’s goal save for a couple of desperate last-minute tussles. In fact, Derry could have added a few more goals to his tally as his pace and directness continued to pose problems for Monaghan’s defence.
An Ulster final at the packed St Tiernach’s Park, Clones was an opportunity so many Monaghan supporters looked forward to. The sad faces of parents and children after the final whistle confirmed this.
Monaghan coach Séamus McEnaney has never denied his ongoing desire to lead the county to the provincial summit. He will know he had a panel this year that should have crossed the line in Armagh yesterday.
Stats could show them dominating the battle in midfield, creating more chances to score and scoring 17 goals to Derry’s 15. But the cold reality of this morning will confirm that his counterpart, Rory Gallagher, won the overall tactical battle in a game the Monaghan players were never comfortable playing.
Midfield may have been a battle line edging Monaghan. However, they were second best everywhere else by a wide margin. No more than the full-back/forward lines at opposite ends of the field. At the start of yesterday’s game, Monaghan’s full-forward run of Jack McCarron, Gary Mohan and Conor McManus was expected to cause endless problems for Derry’s back line. But this important battle line was easily won by the steady hands of Derry’s Brendan Rogers, Conor McCluskey and Chrissy McKaigue.
With McCarron unable to escape the superb McKaigue’s vise-like grip, Monaghan lacked their strongest attacking threat.
However, considering Monaghan’s possession dominance around the middle third, one should wonder why the Farney men seemed unwilling to put the ball early on the attacking line.
Instead, the predictably slow and lateral play allowed Derry to filter men behind the ball and suck the space and energy from Monaghan’s often ineffective attacks. The result was erratic shots, turnovers, and double-digit wides that couldn’t undo the damage at the other end of the field.
With less possession overall, Derry’s attacking line had more flair and was more clinical.
Benny Heron’s decisive goal in the 61st minute was a particular example of Derry’s goal security, in contrast to Monaghan, who dominated the first 20 minutes of the second half and was unable to close the gap beyond three points.
A big question mark over Derry was whether they could rise to a similar level of performance with which they impressively defeated Tyrone.
Gallagher (left) emphatically answered any doubts with another energetic performance that will give Derry supporters plenty of hope against Donegal.
This hope was already bubbling up after yesterday’s victory.
From a broader GAA perspective, it was uplifting to see hundreds of gleeful Derry supporters embrace their newfound heroes, as it’s always nice to see a sleeping giant like Derry finally get his act together.
For too long a county with such a rich football tradition and pedigree has underperformed at this level. Your supporters will bring fresh energy to the Ulster final day.
Brendan Rogers, Derry’s outstanding full-back, was still on the pitch a full hour after the final whistle. A radiant smile that greets every handshake and shoulder slap as if it were his first. After a decade in the shadow of Donegal, Tyrone and Monaghan, there’s every chance this group of Derry players can move on and bridge a 24-year gap to clinch an Ulster title.
Don’t be surprised at Monaghan if they bounce back in qualifiers. Bouncebackability has always been our forte.
Unfortunately, winning the favorites was too often our Achilles heel. Yesterday in Armagh was another grim memory. Missed another chance. Good luck to Derry in the final.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/monaghan-wilt-under-weight-of-favourites-tag-again-as-derry-match-ambition-with-flair-41652707.html Monaghan again falter under the weight of the favorites while Derry combine ambition with flair