GAA Digest: Monaghan shocks All Ireland champs Donegal to claim Ulster title
Monaghan deserved every inch of their 0-13 to 0-7 win
One man’s feast is another man’s famine, and so it proved at Clones on Sunday as Malachy O’Rourke’s Monaghan proved they had more hunger for the Ulster title than All-Ireland champions Donegal.
O’Rourke’s side didn’t just inflict a first ever Ulster championship defeat on Donegal boss Jim McGuinness, they also shattered the belief that this Tir Chonaill side is invincible.
Make no mistake, Monaghan deserved every inch of their 0-13 to 0-7 win over the 2012 Ulster and All-Ireland champions.
Playing on home soil and in front of a sell-out crowd, they were out of the traps like greyhounds and well on their way to victory when they led by five points before Colm McFadden finally opened Donegal’s account in the 32nd minute.
As more than one observer noted, Donegal were out Donegal-ed by Monaghan if that’s possible.
First to every ball, dominated in the central third of the field and sharper in front of goal, Monaghan were never headed in a game beyond their wildest dreams.
They were three points ahead, 0-5 to 0-2, at the interval and six clear at the finish as they condemned Donegal to a qualifier date with Laois in Carrick-on-Shannon this Saturday.
And manager O’Rourke admitted belief and willpower, when no-one else believed in them, was a huge factor for his team.
A delighted O’Rourke told reporters afterwards, “We were written off and you’re bound to get a bit of energy out of that but we could understand why it was because Donegal have been brilliant in the championship over the last number of years.
“And we didn’t play all that well but I knew there was a big performance in the boys and I told them that. People were judging us on the performances against Antrim and Cavan and we weren’t judging ourselves on those performances.
“We knew there was more to come and luckily enough that’s what happened today.”
The blistering start to the game – they were four points up after just seven minutes – was all part of the Monaghan plan according to O’Rourke.
He added, “We felt we had to make a good start. Donegal hadn’t been behind in many of their matches, but if they had to chase the game from the off, we knew we could make life hard for them.”
Monaghan’s first Ulster title win since 1988 will be celebrated for a long time to come by their fans, but star man Conor McManus is adamant there is more to come for the Farney men on the field of play this summer.
“We knew we had the players. We knew we had the talent in that dressing room, that’s as good a squad as there is anywhere in Ireland I believe,” McManus said.
“We knew we had that ability and we went out and delivered. We worked hard. From the start of the year every man worked hard, there were no excuses and we delivered. This is as good as it gets so far but we’re not finished yet.”
While Monaghan await the identity of their next opponents in the All-Ireland quarterfinals, Donegal must get straight back to work for Saturday’s qualifier against Laois.
Still shocked by the defeat, captain Michael Murphy insisted the All-Ireland champions will bounce back in Carrick-on-Shannon.
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