Dublin defeated by Monaghan in Allianz Football League opener


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Amid reports of relegation, Monaghan defied losing expectations and secured a victory against Dublin at Croke Park in the Allianz Football League opening round on Saturday night.

Monaghan netted three goals and secured a narrow one-point advantage over the reigning All-Ireland champion Dublin. The team played without Conor McManus, Darren Hughes, All-Star Conor McCarthy and NFL hopeful Rory Beggan at the game. It also recently had two key players, Kieran Hughes and Fintan Kelly, retiring.

Dublin dominated the early stages, leading 1-4 to 0-2 after 25 minutes, thanks to Cormac Costello’s early goal and precise attacks into their full-forward line.

However, Monaghan responded within four minutes, after Micheal Hamil was fouled, and the team was granted a penalty. Jack McCarron then slots the penalty shot into the net, although Dublin responded quickly with a point from Eoin Murchan.

Not long afterward, Stephen O’Hanlon scored a stunning left-footed goal from 20 metres out, ending the halftime with 1-5 for Dublin and 2-2 for Monaghan.

The second half saw both teams trading scores. Monaghan led by two points entering the final minutes, but Dublin’s Colm Basquel and James McCarthy established a three-point lead by the 54th minute.

However, Dublin’s defensive vulnerabilities were still exposed, allowing Monaghan to reduce the gap to one point. In minute 59, Stephen Mooney and Ciarán McNulty partnered to score a crucial third goal.

Dublin quickly responded with points from Ross McGarry and Killian O’Gara, levelling the score. Nonetheless, O’Hanlon once again put Monaghan in the lead in the 64th minute.

Despite Dublin’s attempt to secure a win, Fenton’s pass was intercepted, and Monaghan capitalised on it efficiently, with McNulty securing the winning point.

The game ended with 3-9 for Monaghan and 1-14 for Dublin.

Dublin manager: Lack of team cohesion

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell accepted Monaghan’s triumph over Dublin, conceding that the opponent deserved the victory. He attributed the defeat to his team’s subpar decision-making, citing challenges in players shaking off rust after the break.

“Some fellas have been later back to pre-season than others, and others have been on extended breaks, or a lot of lads have a lot of mileage on the clock and need to be treated and managed a little bit differently.” said the Blues boss, as cited by Irish Examiner.

Farrell pointed out Dublin’s lack of cohesion in both defence and offence, expressing disappointment in the team’s loss of control during the game.

“The decision-making, probably the cohesion, wasn’t there as well that you’d expect defensively, or sometimes in our attack, we struggled to get into any sort of rhythm, any sort of flow. And we were quick to cough up control of the game which was disappointing for us as well,” he said.

Despite the absence of key players like Dean Rock and Ryan Basquel this season, Farrell remains optimistic about the veteran pair Stephen Cluxton and Mick Fitzsimons’s potential return later in the league.

“You’d be hoping to see them at some stage in the league, for sure. They are obviously two of the players I would have mentioned earlier in terms of being on extended breaks,” said Farrel.

He emphasised the importance of the league in helping players regain match sharpness but acknowledged the necessity of allowing certain players extended breaks for thorough recovery.

Farrell recognised the delicate balance in managing players’ workload, particularly those with more experience, like Cluxton and Fitzsimons.

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