All-Ireland SFC Round 3B Qualifier
The 2015 Ulster champions needed a late goal from Fintan Kelly to see off a determined Carlow at Netwatch Cullen Park, with Monaghan boss Malachy O’Rourke praising side’s character.
Fintan Kelly’s goal came four minutes from time to put four points between the sides, and Kieran Hughes and Dermot Malone finished off the job for the Farney men to give the final scoreline a more comfortable look.
However, prior to Fintan Kelly’s strike, Carlow – conquerors of London in Round 1 – looked like they might be on course for an upset after Gary Kelly’s 49th minute goal.
Darragh Foley’s long range free broke into Gary Kelly’s path, and Brendan Murphy followed that with a fine point which saw Turlough O’Brien’s side pull two points clear by the 54th minute.
Monaghan’s big game know-how came through, however, in the closing stages as they limited Carlow to just one further score.
“It was a real test of character,” said O’Rourke, whose side led 0-5 to 0-3 at half-time and racked up 14 wides in all on the day.
“We knew at half-time we were against the wind, we were two points up, but that it would be a real battle in the second half and we just had to keep our composure and keep working hard.
“We’re just delighted we got through in the end. I thought we were working hard, but we just weren’t making as good a use of the ball as we would have liked.
“It was just about keeping our heads and making sure we kept trying to do the right thing on the ball and things would hopefully turn. It didn’t look like that for a while, but eventually it paid dividends.
“When we conceded the goal, it looked bad for us, but the boys showed great character – we never doubt that about them – we just held our nerve.
“We were able to get a couple of good scores and the goal was obviously a crucial one.”
Carlow boss O’Brien was left to rue his side’s failure to hold on to a late lead, with just 12 minutes separating them from a famous victory. He said: “I think Monaghan just got out by the skin of their teeth.
“We turned over a bit of ball towards the end and they got scores off it and that was the difference.
“I think we matched them all the way through and showed that Carlow can compete at the very highest levels.
“[The run has] been exceptional, we’ve been starved for all our careers, we’ve had no success and we were so close to getting through to the next round.
“[We got] fantastic support from around the county, everybody is so proud of the team. They are going to will it on next year to success.”
Scorers for Monaghan: Kieran Hughes 0-3, Conor McManus 0-3 (2fs), Fintan Kelly 1-0, Conor McCarthy 0-2 (1f), Rory Beggan 0-1 (1f), Shane Carey 0-1, Ryan McAnespie 0-1. Dermot Malone 0-1.
Scorers for Carlow: Paul Broderick 0-5 (5fs), Gary Kelly 1-0, Brendan Murphy 0-2.
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan; Fintan Kelly, Drew Wylie, Ryan Wylie, Shane Carey, Colin Walshe, Karl O’Connell; Kieran Hughes, Darren Hughes; Neil McAdam, Dermot Malone, Gavin Doogan; Owen Duffy, Jack McCarron, Conor McManus.
Subs: Dessie Mone for D Hughes (35+3 black card), Conor McCarthy for McCarron (45), Ryan McAnespie for Duffy (53), Vinny Corey for McAdam (58), Dessie Ward for Carey (70), Kieran Duffy for Doogan (70+5).
CARLOW: Robbie Molloy; Conor Lawlor, Shane Redmond, Mark Rennick; Gary Kelly, Daniel St Ledger, Danny Moran; Sean Murphy, Brendan Murphy; Sean Gannon, John Murphy, Darragh Foley; Paul Broderick, Ciaran Moran, Eoghan Ruth.
Subs: Shane Clarke for Kelly (62), Kieran Nolan for Moran (62).