Last minute Fearghal McMahon penalty helps Monaghan Minors to Ulster title victory over Tyrone

Last minute Fearghal McMahon penalty helps Monaghan Minors to Ulster title victory over Tyrone

MONAGHAN 4-10 TYRONE 2-14 (Minor)

MONAGHAN 0-13 DONEGAL 0-07 (Senior)  Páirc Thiarnaigh Naofa, Cluain Eois

MONAGHAN supporters have been a long time waiting for an Ulster senior title: 25 years, in fact. Having waited so long it was nice to be able to claim a double at Clones, added to a fourth-in-a-row Ulster final victory by the ladies last weekend against Tyrone. It was very appropriate that having introduced the members of the 1988 Monaghan team to the crowd at half-time, the seniors went on to beat the current All-Ireland champions Donegal and take the Anglo-Celt Cup. It was even more special because two hours earlier the Monaghan minors had put in a fantastic finish to win the title for the county for the first time in 68 years.

Monaghan Minors celebrate Ulster title with lap of honour at Clones

Monaghan Minors celebrate Ulster title with lap of honour at Clones

1945 was the last occasion when Monaghan minors took what was only their third Ulster title. A man in the seat beside me in the Pat McGrane stand remarked that one of the stars of that side was from his parish in Sutton Dublin, namely Mackie Moyna from Scotstown, twin brother of Tommy. Mackie’s wife Margery (Boylan), a former teacher also from Scotstown, died recently. Rest in peace.

UPDATE: Since writing the blog yesterday, I have listened back to the end of the minor game commentary on Northern Sound by an almost hoarse Sean McCaffery. He lists the names of the victorious 1945 side and among them was Tommy Moyna, but not Mackie, so my informant was mistaken. However I did find one report on the Hogan Stand website when the twins received Monaghan GAA Hall of Fame awards in 1993. It explained how Mackie made an unregistered appearance in a Monaghan minor jersey at Croke Park in the all-Ireland semi-final in 1945 against Leitrim!

A sea of colour: Fermanagh Street, Clones

A sea of colour: Fermanagh Street, Clones

As usual, the atmosphere in Clones in the build-up to the two finals was tremendous: a sea of colour all along Fermanagh Street. Family groups that travelled from Donegal or further afield finding a suitable green patch on which to have a picnic. Others packing into the several pubs and debating the chances of their team. How long more the Ulster Council of the GAA will keep the final at Clones is another matter; hopefully this will not be the last time Monaghan win an Ulster senior title at Clones. The excellent match programme (€5/£5) contained an article about the planned redevelopment of Casement Park in Belfast, which has already been upgraded with floodlights. As someone who collects sports programmes, I believe this one will be in demand in years to come.

I had listened to some of the first half of the minor match on the car radio. When I took my seat, Monaghan were trailing by five points and the chance of a victory seemed to have slipped away. But a penalty (a bit fortunate) in the closing moments of the game was slotted home by Fearghal McMahon, giving them a single point advantage. It was followed by a Donal Meegan point in injury time, thus ensuring a Farney victory 4-10 to 2-14. Tyrone had led 1-9 to 2-1 at the break.

St Michael's Band Enniskillen prepare for pre-final parade

St Michael’s Band Enniskillen prepare for pre-final parade

The key to Monaghan’s victory in the senior match was the way they controlled Donegal right from the throw-in. They were four points up within nine minutes. Donegal’s opening score came in the 31st minute through a Colm McFadden free, followed by a Frank McGlynn point in injury time, making it 0-5 to 0-2 in favour of Monaghan at the break. The Farneymen were soon on the scoreboard again in the second half, through Kieran Hughes. Monaghan continued to dominate and were the better team throughout. Nice to see Tomás Freeman coming on as a substitute at the end and contributing an insurance point.

Ulster senior champions 2013: Monaghan Picture: RTE Sport

Ulster senior champions 2013: Monaghan Picture: RTE Sport

The final score 0-13 to 0-07 for the home side. Then it was time for a massive celebration with thousands among the crowd of 31,914 invading the pitch to join the excitement as the Anglo-Celt cup was presented by the President of the Ulster Council, Ballybay man Martin McAviney, to the Monaghan captain Owen Lennon. Watching the proceedings was the GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy, another  proud Monaghan man! Former GAA President Sean McCague from Scotstown who managed the winning 1988 county team was also there, as were many other Monaghan personalities including Big Tom McBride who played on Saturday night at a country music festival in Monaghan town.

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