Barrett Sports Lighting Dr. McKenna Cup Section B
Monaghan v Derry, Sunday, 2.00, Celtic Park
Monaghan continue their Dr. McKenna Cup campaign with a tricky trip to Derry on Sunday. This game was due to have been played on the opening weekend, but it was called off due to a frozen pitch. Monaghan’s only game so far was a four-point defeat against Queen’s University, as their second game against Cavan was also postponed. Meanwhile, Derry have two wins from two, as they held off a Cavan comeback to win by two at Breffni Park, before they hammered Queen’s on Wednesday night. Using the games against Queen’s as a yardstick, it looks like Monaghan will be up against it.
The QUB game was the first of Eamon McEneaney’s second term as Monaghan manager and he handed competitive debuts to seven players – Mark Keogh, Stephen Driver, Darren Duffy, James Turley, Keith Hill, James O’Hara and Colin Woods. Meanwhile, Derry also have a new manager in John Brennan and judging by their form so far, he is treating the McKenna Cup much more seriously than previous Derry managers, with the Oak Leaf county preparing for a tilt at promotion from Division Two of the National Football League.
Monaghan will again be expected to give a number of newcomers a chance, with changes likely to be made from the team that faced Queen’s. With a long list of absentees for a variety of reasons, including injuries, college commitments and holidays, Dick Clerkin and Paul Finlay are the only two of last year’s starting 15 from the Ulster final available, so Monaghan will be looking to them to lead the way. Derry have a far more experienced panel, which includes Paddy Bradley (who did a u-turn on his decision to retire), Gerard O’Kane, Kevin McCloy, Enda Muldoon, Barry and Seán Leo McGoldrick and the returning Conleith Gilligan.
These sides have built up a keen rivalry over the last number of years, but Sunday’s meeting is unlikely to come close to the same intensity as some of their recent clashes.