Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Championship Quarter-final
Antrim 0-08-2-17 Monaghan
Kevin Herron reports from Corrigan Park
Antrim minors were second best at Corrigan Park this afternoon as Monaghan’s bid for three successive Ulster titles gathered momentum with a 2-17-0-08 win on the Whiterock Road.
The Farney county were in the ascendancy throughout and netted in the first-half through James Slevin and ace marksman Stephen Mooney- who had 1-08 to his name before departing later in the second period- was on hand to fire home in his sides second midway through the second-half.
The sides finally got the opportunity to do battle after the game was twice scrubbed all the way back in May time when the first lockdown saw Gaelic Games grind to a halt and take two was also scrapped due to the circuit breaker in the north in October.
It was Monaghan who struck first at Corrigan Park, Ethan Graham was felled but able to steer the ball to Stephen Mooney who in turn picked out Tiarnan O’Rourke for the opening point.
Stephen Mooney top scored with 1-07 against Cavan last time out and added his first of the contest from a converted free.
It took almost ten minutes for Antrim to respond through an excellent Ryan McQuillan point after neat play from Calum Higgins.
But Monaghan moved further ahead before the first-half water break as Mooney landed two further placed balls to move the Farney side 0-04-0-01 ahead.
Dan McCahey charged along the by-line and fisted over under pressure to extend the lead and the opening goal arrived for Monaghan within sixty-seconds.
Corner-back James Slevin finished to the net from Michael Hamill’s layoff to move the Ulster champions 1-05-0-01 in front.
Antrim rallied briefly with Sean Duffin pointing after receiving a quick-free and then producing a fantastic effort in the aftermath to cut the deficit.
Mooney would kick his fourth free of the half before the interval with McQuillan doing likewise at the other end as Monaghan went in at the break with an 1-06-0-03 lead.
The second-half began as the first period ended with Mooney and Duffin trading points from the placed ball.
Monaghan then strengthened their grip on proceedings with Ethan Graham producing an excellent angled point and Stephen Mooney adding to his five converted frees with three points from play on the spin- the third of which was expertly measured using the breeze.
In-between those scores Calum Higgins hit back but Antrim were chasing the game and on 47 minutes their task was made much harder as Monaghan sliced open the defence and found a second goal.
Dylan Byrne feed the ball to Nathan Lavery in an advanced position and Lavery slipped the ball inside to Mooney whose low finish beat Shay Laverty to make it 2-11-0-06.
Both sides began to empty their benches and Antrim substitute Patrick Moyes almost grabbed a consolation goal for his side – but his goal bound shot was blocked on the line at the expense of a 45’ which was converted by Duffin.
Patrick Ferris saw another goal opportunity go abegging for the hosts before Monaghan went on another scoring burst in injury-time.
Fionan Carolan kicked a marvellous point and Connor Eccles bore down on goal but opted for a point moments later.
Corner-forward Niall Rice chipped in with three of his sides last four scores with Michael Hamill squeezing over the other.
Sean Duffin converted a late free in the dying embers but the game was long over as a contest and it was Monaghan who progress to a semi-final against Fermanagh in two weeks’ time.
Antrim: S Laverty, L Fleming, D McNicholl, C Donnelly, E Gough, P Ferris, C McGirr, E Quinn, D Doherty, R MQuillan (0-02, 0-01f), S Duffin (0-05, 0-02f, 0-01 45’), R McKillop, B McCafferty, A McErlean, C Higgins (0-01). Subs: E Dixon for R McQuillan (44 mins), O Molloy for D Doherty (48 mins), S Hinphey for B McCafferty (48 mins), P Moyes for C Donnelly (53 mins).
Monaghan: D Croarkin, R Treanor, L Kelly, J Slevin (1-00), N Lavery, D Byrne, E Graham (0-01), C Eccles (0-01), T O’Rourke (0-01), R Duffy, S Mooney (1-08, 0-05f), D McCahey (0-01), D O’Reilly, M Hamill (0-01), N Rice (0-03). Subs: F Carolan (0-01) for D McCahey (50 mins), C Conlon for N Lavery (50 mins), A McCaughey for S Mooney (54 mins), H McDonald for L Kelly (58 mins), T Keenan for E Graham (58 mins).
Referee: Barry McMenamin (An Cabhán)