Monaghan Hurlers Relegated From Nicky Rackard Cup

Tyrone overcame Monaghan hurlers by 10 points in round 2B of the Nicky Rackard Cup played in near perfect conditions in O’Neill Park, Clontibret on Saturday.

Tyrone winning out 2-19 to 1-12.

Monaghan were the better side in the opening 15 minutes and centre half forward Fergal Rafter got the first of his seven points in the opening half with a well taken score in the fourth minute. However, Tyrone responded immediately with a Conor Grogan point from play.

Monaghan midfielder Declan Crowe chipped in with a point before Rafter and Tyrone’s best player Damien Casey exchanged scores. At the first water break the Farneymen were 5 points to 3 in the ascendancy.

The water break seemed to break Monaghan’s momentum and Tyrone raced into a 2 point lead. In the 23rd minute Monaghan missed a glorious goal chance after good approach work by Fergal Rafter and Niall Garland.

Tyrone were more clinical up front and were able to respond immediately to any Monaghan score particularly in the first 21 minutes of the match. They punished Monaghan’s wastefulness with a Bryan McGurk goal on 26 minutes. The O’Neill men added a further 3 points before Aidan Burns and Fergal Rafter stopped the rot for Monaghan.

The score at halftime was 1-12 to 9 points in Tyrone’s favour.  Monaghan’s Fergal Rafter scored 7 points out of Monaghan’s nine point tally.

Aidan Burns took over the scoring mantle for Monaghan as their only scorer in the second half with 1-3. He got his goal in the 37th minute when he worked his way inside the Tyrone defence and cooly tapped the sliotar past Conor McElhatton in the Tyrone goal. As was the pattern of the match Tyrone responded with two more points.

Monaghan missed their second goal chance of the match in the 46th minute after Mark Treanor’s penetrating run saw the sliotar fall to Shane McNally but his pulled shot came off the upright. Tyrone led 1-14 to 1-9 at the final water break.

From here on much of the match was played in the middle third of the pitch but as Monaghan chased the game they left themselves vulnerable at the back. They were punished by Tyrone when half forward Kiefer Morgan ran at the heart of the Monaghan rear-guard and dispatched an unstoppable shot to the roof of Hugh Byrne’s net.

Tyrone tagged on a further 2 points to end the scoring at 2-19 for Tyrone 1-12 for Monaghan.

Monaghan had some good performances, particularly from Fergal Rafter in the first half and Aidan Burns in the second.

Monaghan manager Paul Hughes must be wondering what could have been had Monaghan taken their goal chances and been more efficient in front of goal.

There were many positives for him to take from this match but defeat means Monaghan will compete in the Lori Meagher Cup next year where they will be joined by Longford who were defeated by Leitrim today.

Monaghan scorers: Fergal Rafter 0-7 (0-3 frees), Aidan Burns 1-4 (0-3 frees), Declan Crowe 0-1.