‘We felt we were going to beat the Dubs’ – Corey

'We felt we were going to beat the Dubs' - Corey

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Monaghan may have been written off as virtual no-hopers going into Saturday’s All-Ireland Football semi-final against Dublin but manager Vinny Corey says his squad’s belief that they were going to cause the mother of all shocks only dissipated in the closing 10 minutes of action.

Dean Rock’s goal in the final seconds of injury time gave the Dubs a most flattering 1-17 to 0-13 victory margin after the sides had been level at 0-12 to 0-12 with 10 minutes of normal time left at Croke Park.

And even though a Brian Fenton point started a run of three unanswered scores, Jack McCarron’s reply left only two in it in the 66th minute as Monaghan continued to believe they were going to reach the county’s first All-Ireland Final since their only previous appearance in 1930.

“We felt we were going to win that game,” said Corey of Monaghan’s conviction.

“In the 65th or 66th minute, it was a two-point game and we’ve been finishing games really strong all year so we were confident if we got the ball downfield and got a shot off it would be a one-point game and that’s what we needed,” said the Farney County boss.

“But Dublin seemed to turn the screw. We coughed up possession and Dublin punished us on the turnover.

“They pressed our kickout and the lead extended to three and four and maybe we tried to force things then.

“In fairness to the boys, I don’t think the final score reflects the game but that’s what Dublin are capable of doing to you.”

Both the manager and veteran Kieran Hughes said that the Farney squad hadn’t bought into the pre-match “noise” about how Dublin were going were to do to them for the entire 70-plus minutes what they had done in the second half against Mayo a fortnight ago.

“We have experience of playing Dublin over the past few years albeit not at this stage of the championship so there was a wee bit of confidence and obviously the confidence of winning tight games coming in,” said the manager.

Hughes added: “The reality was that the Dubs played one good second half in the last game against Mayo and bar maybe Sligo or Louth, every other team was there or thereabouts with them.

“We’ve played them enough over the years. We know the players they have. They have a serious bench to look at but we were confident during the week.

“We knew we were going to have to be at our very best to beat them. We were very close to being at our very best and we were hoping they’d be a wee bit off their best.

“I think they were a wee bit off it in the first half but they really showed their true power in the last five to 10 minutes.”

Hughes felt a couple of lost Monaghan kickouts proved crucial in the closing minutes as the Dubs noticeably pressed up as Rory Beggan attempted to locate a team-mate.

Not just on the kickouts either as Dublin chased Monaghan into their own defence in the 62nd minute which resulted in wing-forward Stephen O’Hanlon being adjudged by referee Sean Hurson to have handled on the ground, which allowed Paul Mannion to notch his only point to increase his side’s advantage to 0-14 to 0-12.

“They got a couple of turnovers at key times and that’s football,” added the Scotstown man, who starred after being a late inclusion in Corey’s starting side.

Hughes also pointed to Monaghan’s inability to score a goal with Conor McCarthy blasting against the woodwork in the first half shortly before Mick Fitzsimons blocked a Ryan McAnespie chance.

“We mentioned during the week that we needed goals but we didn’t get any today. You are not going to beat the Dubs in an All-Ireland semi-final if you don’t get goals. It’s just disappointing that it’s another one [All-Ireland semi-final] gone by.”

Monaghan boss Vinny Corey shakes hands with his Dublin counterpart after the final whistle at Croke Park
Monaghan threatened to cause a huge shock in Saturday’s All-Ireland Football semi-final but Dublin produced a strong finish to clinch a 1-17 to 0-13 victory

Amid Monaghan’s disappointment, Dublin boss Dessie Farrell was his typically measured self as he reflected on his side’s victory.

“It’s great to be in an All-Ireland Final again. Semi-finals are for winning, about getting over the line,” said Farrell, who guided the Dubs to their sixth straight Sam Maguire Cup title in 2020 after the five-in-a-row achieved under previous boss Jim Gavin.

“It wasn’t pretty out there. We knew Monaghan were going to come with what they came with. They always provide very stiff opposition for us and they were very structured.

“I thought they played a really good gameplan. They executed on that very well and made it very difficult for us for long periods but ultimately we got there in the end.”

Asked whether he was worried with 10 minutes to go, Farrell replied: “You have to back yourself to get the job done.

“It made for a very tense and exciting last 10 minutes but thankfully our composure and little bit of experience and some of our more senior guys stepped up when it was needed most.

“There’s huge room for improvement. Some of our stuff today wasn’t good. We would have been expecting to do better in certain aspects of our play and that’s something that we’ll definitely review.”

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