"It's not where you start, it's where you finish, it's not how you go, it's how you land. You've got to watch your timing. Easy does it my friend, conserve your fine endurance. Nobody starts a winner, give me a slow beginner."
Monday, 28 May 2012
Just some of the lyrics from the musical 'Seesaw', you could be forgiven for thinking after some 50 minutes on Sunday that Antrim had timed the perfect game-plan.
A first minute goal from Monaghan half-back Karl O'Connor would be the most exciting piece of action in a first half where Monaghan came out on top.
Antrim adopted a very defensive approach early on which saw them play with the two half forwards of Mark McAleese and Chris Sweeney back in defence.
They left Tomas McCann and Paddy Cunningham on the '50' with big Michael Magill and Aodhan Gallagher inside in their full forward line.
This worked well for Antrim as far as shutting Monaghan out went.
McAleese and Sweeney were both effective in endeavouring to turn ball over giving the Saffrons pace and a launch pad for counter-attacks.
Unfortunately too many of these attacks resulted in players making aimless passes into the full forward line and very few ended up with good scoring opportunities.
Nevertheless, with Michael McCann starring at mid-field, Loughrey coming into it more and more and big Magill finishing the half strong on the edge of the square, a two point deficit at half-time didn't look so bad for the saffron following.
Antrim started the second half in blistering style hitting a goal and three points to Monaghan's single point.
Loughrey's goal was a tremendous finish and as the Saffron's went three up, I think we all felt that after failing to win any Ulster Championship games since 2009, this was going to be our day.
But remarkably for 20 minutes we failed to land another score. If a couple of really dubious refereeing decisions helped Monaghan on their way, then you have to say the timing and contribution of the 'Farney' substitutions was even more significant.
Tommy Freeman is undoubtedly one of the best forwards in the country and on a blistering hot day, he was that bit of quality that separated the two teams in the final quarter.
Pete Dooney and Kieran Hughes, the other two substitutes also got in on the scoring act.
Outscoring Antrim by seven points to one in the final 20 minutes. Monaghan timed their onslaught perfectly, getting the right mix of performance and personnel as they landed the victory in the closing stages of this exciting encounter.