A Fintan Kelly goal helped Monaghan overcome a stubborn Carlow side by 1-12 to 1-07 at Netwatch Cullen Park this evening.
Billed as a David v. Goliath contest, it almost had the same outcome as midway through the second half Carlow lead their Division One opponents by a point after Gary Kelly's goal.
Monaghan looked totally out of sorts in this game and only for a late flourish, they could well be making the long journey home out of the championship.
Carlow came into this game on the crest of a wave and right from the off they looked more than a match for their more illustrious opponents.
The game was played in brilliant sunshine, but there was a strong breeze that Monaghan had on their backs in the opening half of this contest.
The expected rout never materialised in the first 35 minutes as Carlow settled early on and it was until the second minute that Monaghan finally got their hands on the ball.
Despite trailing by 0-05 to 0-03 at the break, Carlow went in the happier of the two sides as the frustrated Monaghan time and time again.
Indeed at one stage midway through the half, the Ulster outfit looked the Division Four team as their shooting was poor to say the least.
It was the fourth minute again the first score arrived, but it was one worth waiting for, especially for the Carlow supporters as Paul Broderick stepped up to curl over an excellent free after the ball had been brought forward following a bit of handbags amongst the players.
Two minutes later and Monaghan were level as McManus hit the first of his scores for the day from a straight forward free, while three minutes later they edged ahead after a brilliant score by Kieran Hughes.
Broderick showed he has a cool head by kicking a second free in the ninth minute as Carlow were growing in confidence with every play in the game.
Monaghan looked nervy and a raft of silly wides finally came to an end when the experienced McManus held his head to win possession from their own kick out and turn smartly before slotting over a fine point.
Carlow were showing great patience and in one of the moves of the match, Gary Kelly and Brendan Murphy combined before the latter swung over a good point off his left boot on the left wing.
A McManus free was following by a second point by Kieran Hughes, but in between his brother Darren was shown a black card for an off the ball incident. Veteran Dessie Mone was introduced as his replacement.
Carlow kept Monaghan waiting at the start of the second half, but whatever was said to them during the break certainly worked as they came out and hit the first two scores of the half as Broderick (free) and Brendan Murphy both found the target.
A Shane Carey point in the 47th minute saw Monagh breath a sigh of relief but two minutes later Kelly got in on the end of a breaking ball from a Darragh Foley free and blasted to the net to send the home supporters into meltdown.
Sub Conor McCarthy made it 1-05 to 0-08 with a point from a free and the same player added one from play four minutes later.
A 44 metre free was converted by Beggan to put the visitors back into the lead and another sub Ryan McAnespie edged the Ulster men further ahead with a well take score.
Then the score that broke Carlow's resolve came when Kelly raced forward and was on hand to palm the ball to the net after a good move.
Broderick pulled a point back from a free, but points from Kieran Hughes and Dermot Malone mean Monaghan had five points to spare at the final whistle.
Monaghan - R Beggan (0-1f); F Kelly (1-0), D Wylie, R Wylie; S Carey (0-1), C Walshe, K O'Connell; K Hughes (0-3), D Hughes (0-1); N McAdam, D Malone, G Doogan; O Duffy, J McCarron, C McManus (0-3, 2f). Subs: D Mone for D Hughes (BC), C McCarthy (0-2, 1f) for J McCarron, R McAnespie (0-1) for O Duffy, V Corey for N McAdam, D Ward for S Carey, K Duffy for G Doogan.
Carlow - R Molloy; C Lawlor, S Redmond, M Rennick; G Kelly (1-0), D St Ledger, D Moran; S Murphy, B Murphy (0-2); S Gannon, J Murphy, D Foley; P Broderick (0-5f), C Moran, E Ruth. Subs: S Clarke for G Kelly, K Nolan for C Moran.
Referee - C Reilly.