CHRIS Dillon scored a late winner as Bonagee United defeated Ulster Senior League newcomers Monaghan United in the USL League Cup Group B at Gortakeegan.
Monaghan United 0 Bonagee United 1
By Chris McNulty at Gortakeegan
Dillon, one of the new recruits at Dry Arch Park, drilled in the winner with full-time looming as Jason Gibson’s team got their 2021/22 season off to a winning start.
After Tony McNamee and Micheál Doherty combined on the left-hand side, Dillon was able to steady himself and his low shot beat Mark Byrne from 20 yards for the match winner.
Ten years after leaving the League of Ireland, Monaghan made their bow at the intermediate grade.
Monaghan have become their first team from the Cavan-Monaghan area to feature in the 36-year history of the USL.
Former Finn Harps midfielder McNamee, making his Bonagee debut, was inches from marking the occasion with a goal.
McNamee’s flicked effort in the 15th minute came off the Monaghan goal frame.
That was as close as either side came to breaking the deadlock in the opening half.
Bonagee were guilty of conceding cheap possession when they got into the final third although Monaghan, with Enda Hessin their fulcrum, couldn’t make enough inroads themselves.
The stretching Gareth Harkin might feel as if he should have opened the scoring on the half hour, his effort from Doherty’s ball in rose just too high.
Deano Larkin shot over the top and Michael Funston’s deflected attempt was routinely gathered by Monaghan ‘keeper Byrne.
In burning temperatures, Bonagee might have hit the front on 62 minutes, but Jordan Armstrong fizzed over when teed up by Larkin just outside the area.
Moments earlier, Hessin was off target when he attempted to catch Oisin Cannon off guard from distance when the hosts thieved possession from Bonagee.
Monaghan carved out a chance when Hessin’s cross was met by Simon Douglas, but Bonagee were able to avert the danger.
Harkin might have gone himself but his ball across the goal wasn’t met while Byrne was out to save at the feet of the incoming Jamie Lynagh.
Four minutes from the end, Douglas shout have tested Cannon, but his shot was wide.
There was still time for Dillon to find the winner, but there will have been plenty of first day positives for Monaghan.
Monaghan United: Mark Byrne, Dillon Kelly, Jamie McCarey, Dylan Ballantine, James Turley, Sarto Quigley, Edward Otesanya (Saheed Ogunfowra 73), Victor Ihemje (Simon Douglas half-time), Glen Clarke (Paul Shields 85), Mark Mulligan, Enda Hessin (Steven O’Connor 73).
Bonagee United: Oisin Cannon, Jamie Lynagh, Mark Harkin, Gareth Breslin, Mícheál Doherty, Michael Funston (Seán Hume 63), Dan O’Donnell (Conor Duggan 81), Gareth Harkin, Jordan Armstrong (Chris Dillon 63), Deano Larkin (Garbhan Grant 63), Tony McNamee.
Referee: Barry Maxwell.Tags: