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McNally major not enough for Antrim minors

Antrim defender Michael Ferris comes under pressure from Monaghan’s Karl Gallagher during Saturday’s Ulster Minor Football Championship clash at Corrigan Park with the Farneymen claiming a narrow one-point win Antrim defender Michael Ferris comes under pressure from Monaghan’s Karl Gallagher during Saturday’s Ulster Minor Football Championship clash at Corrigan Park with the Farneymen claiming a narrow one-point win
By Paddy Tierney

Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Championship quarter-final

Antrim 1-2
Monaghan 0-6

From Paddy Tierney at Corrigan Park

MONAGHAN escaped Corrigan Park with a narrow one-point win on Saturday evening in a low-scoring encounter played in extremely gusty conditions – but Antrim manager Collie McAllister insists his side restored pride in the jersey.
When the sides met in the Jim McGuigan Cup earlier this month, Monaghan claimed an emphatic 22-point win at Dunsilly and went on to contest the Ulster Minor League final against Tyrone.
On Saturday, however, an injury-time goal from Antrim midfielder Joe McNally left the minimum between the sides after Monaghan had been reduced to 13 players, but there wasn’t time for the Saffrons to salvage a draw.
“I think we put a wee bit of pride back in the jersey,” stated McAllister after the game.
“We were playing the Ulster champions and they were cheering going off the pitch.
“Monaghan conceded a lot of fouls – that’s craft. They’ve been to an All-Ireland semi-final and they know when to stop the game and they have a few marquee players. I thought our boys matched them. We were under the cosh at times, but our boys showed desire and pride too. The conditions were difficult and we saw some of the shots and passes out there – the game was probably lucky to be played, but the surface was fine.”
The teams were closely matched for the first 20 minutes with Antrim’s Paudie McLaughlin cancelling out an early Liam McDonald free for Monaghan.
However, the hosts were dealt a blow when full-back Emmett Irvine, who had impressed in the early stages, picked up a black card after 21 minutes and the Farneymen assumed control for the remainder of the half with scores from Jason Irwin, Darragh Dempsey (free) and McDonald (free) putting them 0-4 to 0-1 ahead at the break.
Antrim’s second and final point arrived via a well-taken effort from Daniel McNicholl while Irwin landed his second of the evening on 40 minutes.
Yet, the Monaghan captain, booked in the first half, picked up a second yellow for a high tackle moments later and the visitors were guilty of some cynical fouling as they looked to preserve their lead.
Another Dempsey free moved them four clear inside the final 10 minutes and they looked to have done enough to seal victory.
Antrim’s Ryan Lennon was black-carded for a third-man tackle, but a clever pass across the face of goal in stoppage time from Reuben Carleton allowed McNally to palm the ball past Joe Kirk in the Monaghan goal.
Monaghan corner-forward McDonald was issued with a straight red for a strike while Antrim didn’t have time to muster a late equaliser.
McAllister’s men must quickly regroup for the Qualifiers as they will face Armagh in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday afternoon.

ANTRIM: J Rodgers; R Carleton, E Irvine, M Ferris; R Hagan, E Higgins, S O’Callaghan; J McNally 1-0, D McNicholl 0-1; R McKillop, S Madden, C Higgins; P McLaughlin 0-1, R Lennon, R Boyle.
Subs: C Killough for Irvine (21mins b/c replacement), M Lynch for Higgins (55mins).

MONAGHAN: J Kirk; A Brennan, R Boyle, S Hanratty; D Treanor, E Duffy, K Connolly; C McKernan, S Slevin; D Marron, K Gallagher, T Kierans; D Dempsey 0-2 (0-2fs), J Irwin 0-2, L McDonald 0-2 (0-1fs).
Subs: D Courtney for Kierans (42mins), D Kerley for McKernan (54mins) C Maguire for Brennan (59mins).

REFEREE: M Farrelly (Cavan)

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