Monaghan United finally took all 3 points in a thrilling end to end game at Wexford Youths homeground in Newcastle, Wexford on Friday last. Goals from defender Aaron Mooney (2) and Robbie Farrell (1) gave the Mons their first victory of the FAI eircom League of Ireland First Division 2007. United have fought hard over the past 10 games and were unlucky not to have won at least 4 of their previous encounters. This was finally put right on Friday night in Wexford.

The ball had only just been kicked when United signalled their intentions. Everyone pushed forward when United won a free in the first minute and Aaron Mooney, just back from a 4 week lay off due to a knee injury, managed to smash the ball into the back of the net.

Wexford’s Liam O’Loughlin was undeterred by United’s early goal and came right back at Monaghan. Finbar Heffernan won the ball back for the Mons but gave Wexford a free in the process. Conor Sinnott continued the attack but was easily dispossessed. United headed back down the field and Willie Doyle, receiving a perfect pass from Brian Gannon, looked like breaking his duck against his home county team but his shot went just wide of the mark. United continued their opening minutes’ pressure and a Peter D’arcy sent a free kick into the Wexford area but despite their defence clearing it, the Youths failed to get the ball out of danger and United pounced once more. Thanks to the resilience of the defence, Wexford eventually got the ball cleared and back up the pitch.

The game continued with United trying to hard to extend their advantage. A series of attacks were unfruitful until Robbie Farrell’s head met an excellent cross from Finbar Heffernan and United were 2 goals to the good in the 11th minute.

Wexford didn’t take it lying down and came back at the Mons but their free in the 18th minute was easily plucked out of the sky by United’s 6 foot 5 ‘keeper, Alvin Rouse. This was followed by another Wexford free moments later which again Rouse managed to get to without any problems. Wexford had livened up and United had to battle to take their chances. Again O’Loughlin caused the Mons some problems when he sent a ball in. Barry Burke cleared it but not far enough and Wexford pressurised Rouse in to kicking the ball out for a Wexford throw.

The crowd almost thought that they were at a Gaelic match when United took a quick free kick and a Wexford player, not realising the game had restarted, caught the ball on the edge of the box giving United another free. The defence didn’t make a mistake though and soon the ball was heading back down the pitch.

Despite Mons being on top for the remainder of the 1st half, Wexford were able to get a goal back and leave the game open to all just before the whistle. Substitute Lloyd Colfer outsmarted 2 Monaghan defenders and caught Rouse on the hop when he shot across him into the far corner of the net. As half time beckoned, United again went on the goal trek but the half ended 1-2.

As the 2nd half got under way, Farrell went up the field at rocket speed looking for the net. Wexford were able to defend the threat and came close to equalising on numerous occasions. O’Loughlin did well under pressure to keep possession of the ball and sent it to John Flynn O’Connor. Flynn O’Connor looked set to balance the sheet but shot wide of the Mons goal.

A Burke free kick was won back by Wexford and the ball was taken right across the pitch before Steven Feeney showed his midfield prowess and won the ball, passing to D’arcy. D’arcy sent the ball forward but Wexford pushed United back. Kevin Williamson was taken down by Flynn O’Connor moments later and when Williamson took the resulting free, it looked like Farrell was going to put the Mons further in front. Farrell was unable to celebrate however as Shane Dunphy in the Wexford net caught his attempt.

The Youths stepped up their play again and had 2 chances in quick succession saved by Rouse before a Wexford free was headed over the bar by Patsy Malone. Wexfordman Willie Doyle showed his heart lay in the jersey he wore and he was unlucky to send the ball wide again. Some Rouse saves and an offside prevented Wexford from equalising in a worrying time for United.

Sinnott took the ball of D’arcy too effortlessly but his heavy-handed cross went over the Monaghan crossbar as Wexford continued to cause trouble for the northern team. Colfer was again to be the Youths hero when he got on the end of a free which decimated the United wall on the 75th minute. It looked like a case of history repeating itself with United having seemingly thrown away a 2 nil lead.

An edge of box free presented United with an opportunity to score but Doyle’s kick went through the wall and was deflected out by a Wexford player for a corner. Brian Gannon stepped up and sent a blistering ball into the middle of the box where Aaron Mooney was primed and ready. His head met the ball accurately and Dunphy could do nothing about it as the ball ricocheted off the netting in the back of the goal.

Buoyed up by the lead, Monaghan almost got a shock when during the 3 minutes of time added, Wexford almost took a share of the spoils. Dunphy ran up from goals as a dying seconds corner was about to be taken but the ball was sent wide and the game ended after Rouse sent the ball back down the pitch from the subsequent goal kick. United’s first win lifts them off the bottom of the table and makes up for the unlucky draws and losses that seemed to have haunted their first round of games.

Wexford Youths: Dunphy, Russell, Wadding, Murphy, Rossiter, O'Loughlin (Larkin 51), Dunning, Malone, Fitzgerald (Colfer 24), Sinnott, Flynn-O'Connor (Bolger 73).
Monaghan Utd: Rouse, Mooney, Williamson, Whelan, Burke, Feeney, Heffernan (McCluskey 70), D'Arcy, Farrell, Doyle, Gannon.
Referee: Tomas Superczynsky.