Monaghan 0-14 Armagh 0-14
Report by Chris McNulty
DONEGAL must wait to find out their opponents in the Ulster SFC final after Armagh battled to a dramatic, but deserved draw against Monaghan on Saturday evening.
Champions Monaghan looked to have weathered the storm when a quick-fire treble from Kieran Hughes, Rory Beggan and Chris McGuinness put them in front by three with just six minutes remaining.
But Armagh, led by Jamie Clarke’s excellence, hit back to force a replay when substitute Rory Grugan swung over a last-gasp free.
It still looked a little beyond them even when Clarke and Stefan Campbell brought them to within a point, but with the clock ticking towards the end of the two added minutes, Joe McQuillan blew against Ryan Wylie for a jersey-pull on Grugan, who showed nerves of steel to convert.
It was no more than the Orchard – minus the suspended trio of Brendan Donaghy, Kieran Toner and Andy Mallon – deserved.
Clarke slotted over the opening point after only thirty seconds, but by the 16th minute Malachy O’Rourke’s Monaghan were 0-4 to 0-2 in front, in a game characterised by its massed defences.
Beggan, the Monagan goalkeeper, was the game’s top marksman. His effortless kicking was a real highlight of the game and his accuracy was vital for the Farney men. Beggan sailed over two early points to go alongside scores by Jack McCarron and Kieran Hughes.
Armagh were dealt a blow when Kyle Carragher was black carded in the 21st minute and with Conor McManus and Beggan on target Monaghan opened up a three-point lead.
It was Armagh who finished the better in the first half, doing as they did at the end of the game and hitting three late points to draw level, with Tony Kernan, Aidan Forker and Campbell sending them in deadlocked at six points apiece.
Armagh came close to a goal when Forker was denied by Beggan after he latched onto Kernan’s long delivery.
Clarke spun over to fire Armagh in front for only the second time early in part two. Monaghan suffered a hammer blow when captain and talisman Conor McManus was black carded in the 44th minute having been adjudged to have unfairly impeded Finian Moriarty.
Kernan hit a classy point, but midfielder Dick Clerkin scored a booming effort from 45 metres at the other end.
A pulsating finish was teed up when Kernan and Forker registered. Monaghan were eyeing up Donegal in those final few moments, but Armagh reeled them in as Grugan drew the teams level for the seventh and final time with that ice-cool free.
As Paul Grimley looks set to welcome back the banned Donaghy, Toner and Mallon, Armagh will be buoyed for the replay, which takes place next Sunday.
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan (0-5, 5f); Kieran Duffy, Drew Wylie, Colin Walshe; Dessie Mone, Vinny Corey, Fintan Kelly; Dick Clerkin (0-1), Darren Hughes; Ryan Wylie, Pádraig Donaghy, Jack McCarron (0-1, 1f); Dermot Malone, Kieran Hughes (0-2), Conor McManus (0-2, 1f). Subs: Stephen Gollogly (0-2, 1f) for McCarron (half-time), Chris McGuinness (0-1) for McManus (black card, 45 mins), Paudie McKenna for Donaghy (51 mins), Paul Finlay for Malone (63 mins), Karl O’Connell for Kelly (70 mins).
ARMAGH: Philip McEvoy; James Morgan, Charlie Vernon, Finian Moriarty; Aaron Kernan, Ciarán McKeever, Mark Shields (0-1); Stefan Campbell (0-3), Aaron Findon; Eugene McVerry, Kevin Dyas (0-1), Aidan Forker (0-1); Kyle Carragher, Ethan Rafferty, Jamie Clarke (0-3). Subs: Tony Kernan (0-3, 2f) for Carragher (black card, 21 mins), Stephen Harold for Rafferty (50 mins), Stefan Forker (0-1) for A Forker (55 mins), Rory Grugan (0-1, 1f) for McVerry (58 mins), Michael Murray for Moriarty (65 mins).
REFEREE: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).