Monaghan were knocked out of the Ulster Championship for 2017 by Down in the Athletic
Grounds, Armagh, on Saturday June 24th. It was a tough physical game and from the
throw-in Down tackled with force and strength. Monaghan players were slow to start
and even with good chances in the opening minutes squandered them with poor shooting.
Mistakes were punished and there was constant pressure on the defence. They were
playing into a strong breeze and found difficulty in judging the flight of the ball.
However it was the sturdy Down defence which broke down many attacks and immediately
were in the danger zone for Monaghan. Down was like a team possessed as their passion
and commitment for every ball was total and they knocked the spirit, as well as the
strength, out of the Monaghan team. In my opinion Monaghan were deprived of a number
of frees which they deserved but did not get while Down got vital scores from what
appeared as poor decisions. Monaghan supporters expected a revival for the second
half and that the team would settle in and put good moves together to get the points
needed to get back in contention. However it was just more of the same and substitutions
made had little benefit. A change of referee did change how the game was being played
and dangerous play was penalised but Monaghan had a mountain to climb and they struggled
to get control. It was getting close but a point from Down sealed the game for them
and Monaghan had to be content to go into the Backdoor system. We have learned since
then that they will play Wexford in Wexford and that should be an interesting game
as Seamus, The Banty, McEneaney is the manager of the opposition.