Barrett Sports Lighting Dr. McKenna Cup Section B
Monaghan v Queen’s University, Belfast, Saturday, 2.00, Clones * Note change of date from Sunday to Saturday
Monaghan belatedly get their Dr. McKenna Cup campaign underway on Sunday when they take on Queen’s University in Clones.
Monaghan were due to begin life in Eamon McEneaney’s second term in charge with an away game against Derry last Sunday, but it was postponed due to the weather. Monaghan and Saturday’s opponents are joined by Derry and Cavan in Section B of the pre-season competition.
Monaghan look set to use this year’s McKenna Cup to give a number of new players a chance to stake their claims for inclusion in the panel for the National League. Among these newcomers are the likes of Kieran Duffy, Keith Hill, Stephen Driver, James O’Hara along with the returning Owen Duffy, Bernard O’Brien and Shane Smyth, although Ronan Meegan and Ted Duffy are unlikely to play any part due to their involvement in Sunday’s IFL Final. Monaghan also have a number of players involved with colleges in the McKenna and O’Byrne Cups, including Neil McAdam and Christopher McGuinness with DCU, Colin Walshe and David Hughes with DIT and Donal Morgan and Conor Galligan with UUJ. A lengthy injury list includes Vincent Corey, Conor McManus, Kieran Hughes, Shane Duffy, Stephen Gollogly, Owen Lennon and Hugh McElroy, while Tommy Freeman and Darren Hughes are also absent. Just two of the starting 15 from last year’s Ulster final, Dick Clerkin and Paul Finlay, are included in the McKenna Cup panel. Monaghan’s only competitive action so far this year was a challenge match on January 2, where they lost to Fermanagh.
Under the management of former Armagh star Cathal O’Rourke, Queen’s can call on county players such as James and Charlie Kielt from Derry, rising Tyrone star Niall McKenna, Seán Burke of Antrim and Luke Howard (Down). With the colleges not subject to the winter training ban and with preparations picking up for the forthcoming Sigerson Cup, Queen’s may have a slight advantage in fitness for this game.
Monaghan have played QUB twice since the universities first entered the Dr. McKenna Cup in 2005. The Farney county had a one-point win in 2006, but Queen’s were winners by the same margin in December 2007.
All games in this weekend’s Dr. McKenna Cup will be preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of Mickey Harte’s daughter, Michaela McAreavey, who died tragically while on honeymoon. Tyrone’s game against Fermanagh has been postponed as a mark of respect. The thoughts of all Gaels are with the Harte and McAreavey families. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.
Streamline Coaches Intermediate Football League Final
Doohamlet v Inniskeen, Sunday, 12.00, Drumhowan
Doohamlet and Inniskeen clash in the long-delayed 2010 IFL Final on Sunday. The game was originally to have been played back on November 21, but Doohamlet’s involvement in the Ulster IFC Final and the terrible weather throughout December and last Saturday caused the game to be postponed until now.
Doohamlet have already won their first-ever IFC title before going close to following it up with Ulster success and now they are one win away from winning their first IFL. Having led Lisnaskea going into the final quarter, Doohamlet ended up three points adrift of the Fermanagh men, but this game offers a chance to lift themselves and complete a Monaghan intermediate double.
The teams had contrasting fortunes in the championship, as Doohamlet lost just once in ten games, while Inniskeen couldn’t manage a win from their two matches. Doohamlet beat Aghabog, Rockcorry (after a replay), Éire Óg, Aughnamullen and Tyholland to win the Monaghan IFC. They added wins over Bundoran from Donegal, Sarsfields of Armagh and Tyrone champions Derrylaughan in the provincial championship, where they fell just short in the decider. Meanwhile, Inniskeen made a surprise early exit after defeats to Donaghmoyne and Aughnamullen.
Doohamlet have been consistently towards the top of the IFL table all year, while Inniskeen looked to be in relegation trouble two-thirds of the way through the season, before a run of five successive wins saw them sneak ahead of Rockcorry into fourth place, by virtue of their superior head-to-head record. Doohamlet edged past Tyholland in a low-scoring league semi-final, with Inniskeen battling their way to a similarly narrow win away to neighbours Donaghmoyne.
Doohamlet have a very settled team, with 12 players having started all ten of their championship games in 2010. Monaghan Young Footballer of the Year Colin Walshe is a key man in defence, along with Gabie Casey, Martin Hughes, Darren Connolly and Shane Johnny Connolly. Captain Glen Cumiskey and Intermediate Player of the Year Ciarán McManus man a strong midfield, while Shane McManus, Ted Duffy and Niall Johnny Connolly provide the main scoring threats, although the O’Neills will be without Niall Jim Connolly, who is in Australia.
Inniskeen will need Paul and Ronan Meegan and Michael Lennon on form up front, while Fergal Duffy and Gavin Dooley are certain to play key roles at midfield, with Stephen Callan and Raymond Lennon central players in defence. They could also be boosted by the long-awaited return from injury of Matthew McKenna.
Doohamlet have already secured promotion to the senior ranks for 2011, while Inniskeen need to win if they are to join them. If Doohamlet win, Donaghmoyne will be promoted as they finished top of the league.