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

ULSTER used a Rory Woods point in the dying moments to just scrape by and annex the junior hurling title after a brilliant hour of hurling. With both sides leaving it all on the line, a hugely entertaining outing went down to the wire, and indeed Hoboken had a 20 meter free that would have put them ahead just before Wood’s winner.

Hoboken broke out the gate early and had two points on the board from Shane Quinn and Joe O’Connor inside three minutes.

Ulster settled and they had three of the next four scores to move into a slim lead, with both sides battling intensely. Peter Hatzer was having a big effect at center half for Ulster, while the long ball was being used into Woods continuously.

Quinn and David Varley pushed Hoboken ahead once more, but Ulster had a penalty awarded when Woods was fouled in the large parallelogram.  Maurice O’Callaghan took the peno but his shot was stopped and cleared to safety with Stephen Delaney excellent.

O’Callaghan did have the next four Ulster points to offset a O’Connor effort to push the winners into a 0-8 to 0-6 lead. Hoboken also had a point called back when the whistle went for a foul on the ball before the strike. No foul was committed, however, and a throw in occurred with Ger McFettridge from Ulster getting a yellow card at the next stop in play for his indiscretions before the incident.

After a McFettridge score to open the second half, Hoboken had a huge break. A long free from full back Paul Sweeney eluded all and bounced to the net.

After an O’Callaghan free Hoboken had their second goal, This time Quinn rattled the strings with a low drive. Points followed from O’Callaghan (two) and a Delaney free when he came out the field and fired over from close to 90 yards to give his side a 2-7 to 0-12 lead.

In a flurry between the 18th and 24th minutes the landscape changed again around the scoreboard. Cahir McNaughton set up Woods for a goal for the winners before the same player added their second with a shot after a run through the middle.

Five ahead they looked safe, but Hoboken had other ideas. O’Connor stormed through for a goal and then added a point from play.

Fintan Meehan had the sides level with another point before his side had a free from the 20 meter line on the left side of goal after O’Connor was fouled. The free went to the left and wide, however, and Ulster had one more chance on the restart.

The ball went down the field and was pumped into the full forward line.  Woods pulled it down and sent a screamer over the lathe for the winner.

Hoboken Guards: 1 Stephen Delaney (0-1), 2 Mark Loughnane, 4 Paul Sweeney (1-0), 5 John Fitzgerald, 6 Leo Quigley, 7 James Egan, 8 Darren Coffey, 9 David Varley (0-1), 10 Shane Quinn (1-2), 11 Paul Loughnane, 12 Joe O’Connor (1-3), 13 Pat Egan, 15 Fintan Meehan (0-2). Subs: Adrian Purcell, Colm Reilly.

Ulster: 1 Eoghan McCorry, 2 Paul McCormack, 4 Dan Kenny, 5 Ian Gibbs, 6 Peter Hatzer, 7 Tom Daniels, 8 David O’Halloran (0-3), 9 Peader McMahon, 10 Ger McFettridge (0-1), 11 Cahir McNaughton (1-0), 12 Adam Fitzgerald (0-1), 13 Rory Woods (1-1), 15 Maurice O’Callaghan (0-7). Subs: Richie Morgan, Stephen King, Lawrence Kennedy.
Man of the match: Rory Woods (Ulster).
Referee: Eugene Kyne (Turloughmore).

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