Monaghan are back with the Big Dogs after a long battle in the lower reaches of the New York GAA, and they did it in style with a great win over Long Island Gaels in the intermediate football final.
In a resurgence that has been built over the last five years, the side has won the junior and intermediate titles as it moves with impressive form into the top division.
The club has a strong home base. Over the last number of years their numbers at training on Randall’s Island have been nothing short of startling.
Dan Scott has built a winning formula that is now the template for all other clubs that strive to play senior. His side this year was bolstered by the addition of home based players of the caliber of
Paul Lamb and Kevin Smith, while forwards players Paul McArdle and Darren Freeman were outstanding all year.
They had a perfect start to the contest with a goal from McArdle in the first minute, while Long Island did recover with 1-1 from Dean Moore and Declan Carvill.
It was a six-point surge from the winners with McArdle grabbing three that paved the way to the easy victory. Add to the fact that James Connolly hit the inside of the post and the ball somehow stayed out of the net, the dominance in attack was clearly evident.
The victory, however, was created by the brilliant defense. Long Island took a forward out to help the defense which gave Monaghan a loose man for long periods.
The fact that it was Sean Kelly or Bonnie Duffy was tremendous for the winners. Kelly came forward for an outstanding point early on while Lonan Maguire was constantly in the opposing half running at the defense.
McArdle was also deadly when given the ball. Coming off this year’s Monaghan Ireland panel, he proved his worth.
By the time the half arrived the 2013 champions were ahead 1-7 to 1-2, but the gap seemed even wider. A 1-3 burst for Monaghan to open the second half killed off the contest with McArdle, Freeman with a gem on the run, Mark McCaughey with a goal after a 10 player passing movement, and McArdle again with a long effort the scorers.
Harassing across the field when Long Island had possession, they built a wall across the 35-yard line where Maguire, Duffy and the advancing Kelly were brilliant.
Long Island had their best period in a six minute burst between the 12th and 18th minutes. Their total haul, however, was three points as the goal they needed never looked like materializing. Donal Hearty did have a couple of balls to play out to his defense, but he never had a real clear cut drive at goal come his way in this period.
Monaghan reacted to the surge by shooting four of the last six points of the game, with Freeman adding a pair and Smith, while getting his second winners medal in eight days (Longford last week), getting the last.
The win was built on defense despite the 2-14 total. Hearty and his front dominant six are hard to single out -- one ahead of the other were outstanding. Smith and Connolly won the middle, while
Shane McKenna and Caoimhin O’Callaghan did a lot of dirty work helping out on the defensive end while also linking on the way out.
The center access of Freeman and McArdle was outstanding. JC also contributed handsomely.
Ciaran Boyce did well in the goal for Long Island. Donal McKenna, Darren and Dean Moore also battled throughout, although taking Darren off before the break was a head scratcher.
There was a hold up before the start of the second half when a couple of players and their eligibility were discussed, one from each side.
Thought the arm bands had resolved that? I guess not.
One other item – there were two county finals on Sunday but no program. A pity as quite a few players have people to send them to in Ireland of course and for souvenirs.
The pipes for the parade before intermediate and Therese Crowe’s renditions of anthems were a step in right direction.
Monaghan: 1 Donal Hearty, 2 Mike O’Regan, 3 Sean Kelly (0-1), 4 Paul Lamb, 5 Lonan Maguire, 6 Bonnie Duffy, 7 Mark McCaughey (1-0), 8 Kevin Connolly, 9 Kevin Smith (0-1), 10 Caoimhin O’Callaghan, 11 Darren Freeman (0-3), 12 Shane McKenna, 13 Dave Harvey, 14 Paul McArdle (1-6), 15 James Connolly (0-3).
Long Island Gaels: 1 Ciaran Boyce, 2 Donal McGlynn, 3 Paddy Green, 4 Liam McDonald, 5 Garth Moore, 6 Stephen O’Kane, 7 Larry McEntee, 8 Bernard Deay (0-1), 9 Donal McKenna, 10 Conor Moore, 11 Darren Moore (0-2), 12 Dean Moore (0-3), 13 Paul McDaid, 14 Declan Carvill (1-0), 15 Niall Sexton. Sub: Liam Meehan (0-1).
Man of the match: Paul McArdle (Monaghan).
Referee: Lawrence McGrath.
Team of the Week
OUR team is dominated by the winners on a quiet weekend with just two games intensely played. In the forward lines Rory Woods and Paul McArdle starred, but others to excel were Monaghan’s defense and the play of Connolly and O’Halloran for the respective champions.
1 Stephen Delaney (Hoboken), 2 Mike O’Regan (Monaghan), 3 Sean Kelly (Monaghan), 4 Mark Loughnane (Hoboken), 5 Lonan Maguire (Monaghan), 6 Peter Hatzer (Ulster), 7 Mark McCaughey (Monaghan), 8 Kevin Connolly (Monaghan), 9 David O’Halloran (Ulster), 10 Cahir McNaughton (Ulster), 11 Darren Freeman (Monaghan), 12 Joe O’Connor (Hoboken), 13 Rory Woods (Ulster), 14 Paul McArdle (Monaghan), 15 Maurice O’Callaghan (Ulster).
Ulster Just Makes the Grade
Ulster 2-13 Hoboken Guards 3-9