Kildare rue missed opportunity as Monaghan take the two points

By Brendan O’Brien

Allianz League Division One

Kildare 0-12

Monaghan 1-10

St Conleth’s Park

Kildare manager Cian O’Neill had no doubt but that his side had been the architects of their own downfall after coming out the wrong side of a one-point game on Sunday afternoon.

The Lilywhites were playing their first game of Division One football in Newbridge since 2014 but, after an up-and-down few seasons that involved stints in both the second and third tiers, there were some familiar grumbles doing the rounds after this frustrating defeat.

“We can blame no-one only ourselves,” O’Neill said. “We created the chances but it is fair to say the first eight to ten minutes was a fair reflection across the match in that we had chance after chance and didn’t execute and then we got a few sucker punches, particularly with the goal.

“We were definitely the architects of our own downfall. Last week (against Dublin) we were beaten by a better team who for ten of 15 minutes really exposed us. There was very little between the teams today. We let a huge opportunity slip.”

Kildare's Paul Cribbin and Paraic McGuirk of Monaghan. Photo: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan.

They started well in most facets of play but failed to make the most of their early dominance thanks in no small part to three bad missed frees from Kevin Feely who, while excellent from dead balls in 2017, had an off day in front of the posts.

Monaghan defended in numbers but broke at pace and they were that bit more efficient with their chances in the opening quarter which ended with them three points to two to the good on a cold but dry and still February afternoon.

Kildare were doing most of their best work on the counter too and they were indebted to the accuracy from distance of wing-forward Paul Cribbin who had three points from play to his name before earning a black card approaching the break-in dragging Darren Hughes to the floor.

Brain dead stuff.

Monaghan had already struck the game’s first goal a few minutes earlier, the excellent Dessie Ward chipping through a lovely assist for the inrushing Cathal McCarthy who dodged two tackles before finishing calmly to the net.

The Ulster side took the break with a four-point lead.

It lasted just 15 more minutes as Kildare claimed four of the next five points. Monaghan, though, steadied and the introduction of Conor McManus for his first appearance of the season drew a thunderous roar from the travelling horde.

McManus’ arrival was offset by the loss soon after of Jack McCarron to a black card – the games’ third but first for Monaghan – although the visitors maintained a slender, one-point lead as the last minutes slipped away.

Kildare had their chances to level it in the five minutes of added time. Paddy Brophy clipped one off the post, Eamonn Callaghan dropped one short when in oceans of space and then Feely sent another wayward effort wide by a distance. That one was from play.

A sweet win, then, for a Monaghan side that felt aggrieved by a one-point loss to Mayo on opening weekend. A second loss on the trot for Kildare for whom the return to the top table has so far been a major disappointment.

Scorers for Kildare: P Cribbin and B McCormack (both 03); K Feely (0-3f); N Kelly (0-2); P Brophy (0-1).

Scorers for Monaghan: C McCarthy (1-1, 0-1f); D Ward (0-2); J McCarron (0-2, 1f); R Beggan, N Kearns and C McManus (all 0-1f); K Duffy D Hughes (both 0-1).

Kildare: M Donnellan; D Hyland, P Kelly, M O’Grady; J Byrne, E Doyle, C O’Donoghue; K Feely, D Flynn; F Conway, L Flynn, P Cribbin; B McCormack, D Flynn, C McNally. Subs: D Slattery for Cribbin (black card, 35); N Kelly for McNally (HT); M Hyland for O’Grady (47); P Brophy for McCormack (51); E Callaghan got Conway (55); J Hyland for Healy (66).

Monaghan: R Beggan; B Kerr, C Boyle, K Duffy; F Kelly, D Malone, K O’Connell; D Hughes, N Kearns; N McAdam, P McGuirk, D Ward; C McCarthy, J McCarron, D Garland. Subs: C Walsh for McGuirk (18); J Wilson for Garland (HT); D Mone for McAdam (40); C McManus for (Malone (55); D Freeman for Wilson (62); O Duffy for McCarron (65).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).

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