Towns Cup heartbreak for Monaghan


The IJM Timber Frame Monaghan 1stXV suffered a narrow and heartbreaking defeat on their 1st ever appearance in the 2nd round of the Bank of Ireland Ulster Towns Cup. The 10 point deficit at the end didn’t fairly reflect what was a very closely contested match, with the home side more than a match for a visiting side riding high in the league above them.

Coleraine got the match underway at a cold and blustery Rafeenan. Recent heavy rain meant that the sod was soft and a little muddy under foot and this led to the ball becoming slippery. With both defences dominating and the ball proving a little difficult to handle at times, scoring chances were at a premium throughout. The first real scoring chance fell to the home side in the 10th minute. As a Monaghan attack developed, Gareth Graham spotted space behind Coleraine’s left winger. Graham’s well-judged kick ahead was chased by Fergal O’Dowd and stopped just inside the goal area. However, much to the disappointment of the vocal home crowd, O’Dowd was just beaten to the touchdown by the Coleraine full back who had tracked back well. Coleraine took the lead midway through the half, slotting over a penalty kick from 27 meters after a Monaghan player had strayed offside. There was a hint of misfortune for the home side as Coleraine extended their lead in the 25th minute. The Monaghan defence had done well to turn over possession from a Coleraine attack. Gareth Graham saw his attempted clearance charged down and as a number of players gave chase as the ball bounced across the goal line, the bounce favouring the Coleraine number 8 who touched down. The conversion made it 10-0. In the 32nd minute, as a good Monaghan attack approached the Coleraine line, Clayton Wilson was deemed to have played on on the ground after a tackle, although he didn’t believe that he was held in the tackle. A Coleraine handling error on the Monaghan 22 as they counter attacked from their own 22 spared the home side from possibly falling further into arrears. Monaghan finished the half defending stoutly inside their own 22 but they survived the onslaught without further concession. The half time score of IJM Monaghan 0 Coleraine 10 reflected harshly on the Monaghan efforts throughout the half.

Gareth Graham kicked off for Monaghan in the 2nd half and within 5 minutes he had them on the scoresheet. Under severe pressure from the Monaghan attack, Coleraine infringed in a ruck under their own posts. Graham had little difficulty slotting over the kick for 3 points. Just as in the opening half, scoring chances were proving hard to come by for both sides with the next real chance for points coming Coleraine’s way on the hour mark. They failed to take advantage as a well struck penalty kick came back off the right hand upright. A minute later, the visitors found themselves at a numerical disadvantage as their number 3 was sin binned for pulling an opponent through a ruck. He was soon followed to the bin by Jason McGuirk, his penalty concession at a ruck following a team warning to Monaghan for too many penalties conceded. Coleraine made the game safe in the penultimate minute with a penalty kick from in front of the posts. There was only 1 phase of play after the restart before referee Mark Millar brought proceedings to a close on a final score of IJM Monaghan 3 Coleraine 13.
The Monaghan lads were roundly applauded by the home support for their efforts as they left the field. They again proved that they have the ability to play at a higher level as for much of this match it was difficult to distinguish which was the higher ranked side. They matched Coleraine for both intensity and skill and may have caused a 2nd upset in this years Towns Cup had they scored first. Next weekend, Monaghan continue their defence of the Gordon West Cup with a trip to Belfast to take on BHSFP at the quarter final stage. Its back to league action the following weekend in Letterkenny as they look to get their promotion push back on track.

Team: J Sherlock M Allister R Carleton C Wilson R McKenna D McGregor J McGuirk C Brady A Smith G Graham S O’Connell E Rutledge (c ) D Carleton F O’Dowd C Foentjies. Subs: S Clerkin D O’Callaghan.