Monaghan 4-17 Armagh 2-21: Farney County reach Ulster final after epic contest

Monaghan are through to the Ulster final for the first time since 2015, after edging Armagh 4-17 to 2-21 in a high-scoring nail-biter.

However, football was of a secondary concern at Páirc Esler on Saturday, following the tragic death of Monaghan U20 captain Brendán Óg Duffy on Friday night.

Monaghan came flying out of the traps. Conor McManus bagged 1-1 within three minutes, rounding Armagh goalkeeper Shea Magill to coolly slot it into the net. Jack McCarron then added another 1-1, finding the net in style.

McCarron then turned provider, first playing in Micheál Bannigan and then Darren Hughes as Monaghan scored four first-half goals.

Nonetheless, Armagh kept providing a response going forward. Rian O’Neill (0-5) and Rory Grugan (0-3) led the fight before the break, as they trailed 4-9 to 0-14 at the half-way mark.

Under the intense heat of the Newry sunshine, the pace dropped in the second half. And that suited Monaghan as they looked to defend the lead.

McManus and Shane Carey kept the scoreboard ticking over, as they retained their seven-point lead at the water break.

However, as the final quarter got underway, Armagh found another gear. Goals from substitutes Conor Turbitt and Tiernan Kelly saw the game turned on its head, as the Orchard County edged ahead going into injury-time.

But a late brace of Conor McManus frees, as well as a Stephen O’Hanlon score, helped Monaghan over the line and into the Ulster final for the first time since 2015.

The statistics from today's #Ulster2021 semi final

Monaghan: Rory Beggan (0-2, 0-2f); Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle, Ryan Wylie; Karl O’Connell, Killian Lavelle, Ryan McAnespie; Darren Hughes (1-0), Niall Kearns (0-1); Micheal Bannigan (1-0), Aaron Mulligan, Dessie Ward (0-2); Conor McCarthy (0-1), Jack McCarron (1-1), Conor McManus (1-6, 0-3f, 0-1m).

Subs: Stephen O’Hanlon (0-2) for Conor McCarthy (35th minute), Shane Carey (0-1) for Aaron Mulligan (42nd minute), Colin Walshe for Karl O’Connell (48th minute), Kieran Hughes for Killian Lavelle (49th minute – temporary), Andrew Woods for Niall Kearns (59th minute).

Armagh: Shea Magill; James Morgan, Aaron McKay, Ryan Kennedy; Ciaron O’Hanlon (0-1), Greg McCabe (0-1), Connaire Mackin; Niall Grimley (0-1), Oisin O’Neill (0-2); Jemar Hall, Rian O’Neill (0-6, 0-3f), Jarly Óg Burns (0-1); Rory Grugan (0-3, 0-1f), Andrew Murnin (0-2), Stefan Campbell (0-1).

Subs: Aidan Forker for Aaron McKay (29th minute), Conor Turbitt (1-1) for Niall Grimley (half-time), Conor O’Neill (0-1) for Ciaron O’Hanlon (half-time), Tiernan Kelly (1-0) for Jemar Hall (50th minute), Ross McQuillan (0-1) for Connaire Mackin (52nd minute).

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