Ulster Minor Football League Group A
Monaghan v Armagh, Saturday, 12.00, Clones
Monaghan’s minor footballers will be hoping to build on last weekend’s win over Down when they play Armagh in Clones on Saturday in the Ulster MFL.
Monaghan won their first competitive game under the guidance of Colin McAree, Mattie McGleenan and Ciarán Mulligan on Saturday when they overcame a numerical disadvantage to beat Down by a point. Armagh also got off to a winning start when they have five points to spare against Cavan.
Pádraig and Christopher McKenna, Thomas Kerr, Johnny McGuigan, Mel Boyce and Conor Boyle are likely to play key roles for Monaghan, who lost to Armagh in the Ulster first round last year. Paul McGeown, who starred for Armagh last year in their run to the Ulster final, should be a central figure for the Orchard county, along with the likes of Ciarán O’Hanlon and Cathal McKenna.
Ulster Minor Hurling League Division Two
Monaghan v Tyrone, Saturday, 12.00, Dungannon
Monaghan and Tyrone meet in Dungannon on Saturday in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming Ulster MHL Division Two Final.
Both Monaghan and Tyrone are already through to the decider after winning two out of two so far. Monaghan had a comprehensive win over Fermanagh in round one and they got the better of Donegal last Saturday, while Tyrone followed up a double-scores win against Donegal with a similarly comfortable success in Fermanagh.
Monaghan will be looking for big performances from Fergal Rafter, Niall Garland, Conor Cahill, Micheál Ó Mordha and Gareth Brennan, while Gerard Gilmore, Tiernan Morgan, Rory Devlin and Tommy Moore are among the main men for Tyrone.
Allianz National Football League Division One
Monaghan v Kerry, Sunday, 2.30, Inniskeen
Monaghan welcome Kerry to Inniskeen this afternoon, knowing that they need a result in the battle to avoid relegation from Division One of the NFL.
Monaghan started their campaign with a good win at home to Galway, but they have lost four in a row since then. They suffered narrow defeats to Armagh, Cork and Dublin before slumping to a disappointing loss against Down. Kerry were edged out by old rivals Cork in the first round, but they bounced back with a four-point win over Mayo. Another one-point defeat followed against Dublin in Croke Park, but they have won their last two games against Galway and Armagh to move up to fourth in the table, keeping their hopes of a place in the final alive.
Monaghan have scored 2-64 in their five games to date, eight points less than Kerry, who have hit 4-66. Monaghan have conceded 3-69, while Kerry have let in 4-52, 3-10 of which came against Dublin, meaning they have kept three clean sheets in their other four games.
This is Kerry’s first visit to Monaghan since 2006 when a late point from Colm Cooper gave the Kingdom the narrowest of wins at Scotstown, a game their manager Jack O’Connor credited in his autobiography with helping to toughen his team up mentally. The sides, of course, also met in the championship in 2007 and 2008, with both games also producing narrow wins for Kerry, who edged through by a point in the ’07 All-Ireland quarter-final and by a Kieran Donaghy goal in the final round of the ’08 qualifiers. Kerry also beat Monaghan in the final round of last year’s league, but both sets of supporters were celebrating afterwards, as other results helped keep Monaghan in Division One.
Monaghan have been blending youth and experience in this year’s campaign. Having started off with a very young team, Eamon McEneaney has gradually been introducing more seasoned campaigners, such as Tommy Freeman, Owen Lennon and Vincent Corey. Younger players like Christopher McGuinness, David Hughes, James Turley and goalkeeper Mark Keogh have nailed down places in the team throughout the league to date, while Dessie Mone and Paul Finlay have showed well. Monaghan have a number of injury concerns, though, as Gavin Doogan is likely to be joined on the sidelines by Darren Hughes and Lennon, while Corey and Finlay are also said to be doubtful.
Kerry have been taking a similar approach, as experienced players like Tom O’Sullivan, Tomás Ó Sé, Colm Cooper, Declan O’Sullivan and Bryan Sheehan have returned in recent weeks, while Paul Galvin is back from injury and Marc Ó Sé is available after serving a four-week suspension for an incident involving Dublin’s Eoghan O’Gara. Kieran O’Leary, Shane Enright and Paul and David Geaney have also made their mark at various stages of the season as they stake their claims for places.
Having come close to getting the better of Kerry a number of times in recent years, Monaghan will be determined to finally get the better of their illustrious opponents today. Monaghan’s fate is likely to go down to the final round of games for the second year in a row, but a win here would be a huge psychological boost for the Farney men ahead of what could be a crucial game against Mayo in Inniskeen next Sunday.
Monaghan NFL Scorers 2011:
Paul Finlay 0-27 (22f)
Conor McManus 1-16 (0-6f)
Owen Duffy 1-3
Christopher McGuinness, Mark Downey, Dick Clerkin 0-4 each
Conor Galligan, Dessie Mone 0-2 each
Neil McAdam, Tommy Freeman 0-1 each
Bord Gáis Ladies National Football League Division One
Monaghan v Donegal, Sunday, 2.00, Truagh
Having already secured a home semi-final in the NFL Division One, Monaghan will be attempting to complete their programme with a perfect seven wins from seven when they host Donegal at St. Mellan’s on Sunday.
Wins over Tyrone, Mayo, Cork, Kildare, Galway and Laois have Monaghan three points clear at the top of the table, while Donegal are also through to the last four, although they still have home advantage in the semis to play for. They have beaten Galway, Laois, Tyrone, Mayo and Kildare, with their only setback being a heavy defeat against Cork. The north-westerners are currently joint-second along with Cork, but they have a far inferior score-difference and head-to-head record, so they need the Rebelettes to slip up against Tyrone. Donegal’s main strength is their goal-scoring, as they have found the net no less than 21 times to date in the league.
Monaghan manager Gregory McGonigle could use this game to experiment with his team ahead of the semi-finals, although he will be keen to protect his 100% record since taking charge, as the Farney county also won the pre-season O’Dowd Cup. Cathriona McConnell, Ciara and Aoife McAnespie, Amanda Casey, Ellen McCarron and Caoimhe Mohan have been to the fore for Monaghan. Geraldine McLaughlin, who has hit an amazing 11 goals in the current campaign, Yvonne McMonagle, Niamh Hegarty and Aoife McDonnell are likely to play key roles for Donegal.
There are three games on Saturday in the Gerry’s Takeaway, Ballybay Junior Football League. Cremartin have a home game against Oram, Killeevan host Blackhill and Toome make the long trip to Emyvale. There are also games in all four divisions of the Platinum Tanks-sponsored Reserve Football League over the weekend.
Castleblayney will be hoping to keep up their winning run in the Ulster Club Senior Hurling League Division 4A when they make a lengthy journey to play Glencar-Manorhamilton from Leitrim on Saturday, while there is a Monaghan derby in Division 5A when Carrickmacross have home advantage against Truagh.