Monaghan GAA has introduced a new initiative this year in order to promote and publicise the League competitions within the county. On each weekend of premier league football, one game is selected as is played at a different time from all others.
Posters are printed and displayed in prominent locations in the catchment areas of the two competing clubs. Additional publicity is sought. On the day, the home club must produce a match programme, use a PA system and organise activities for Primary Schools etc.
The first “Game of the Weekend” took place in St Mellan’s Park, Truagh when local rivals Truagh and Scotstown attracted a record crowd to an Owen Ward Cup game. Since then Inniskeen, Aughnamullen and Blackhill have successfully hosted big games.
Next Sunday (22nd May), the Game of the Weekend is one of the most historic clashes in Monaghan GAA history. Clontibret O’Neills host Ballybay Pearse Bros. is what should be a dynamic Senior League encounter. In the 1950s, these two great clubs dominated Monaghan competitions. They shared every Senior Championship between 1949 and 1959. (Clontibret winning in 1949-1950-1951-1952-1955-1956-1958 while Ballybay were champions in 1953-1954-1956-1957-1959). Indeed, this great rivalry was recognised by Monaghan County Board which presented a joint “Hall of Fame” award to two of the outstanding players of that era, Benny Mone and Jim O’Hanlon.
Clontibret are the current County Champions and still have all the “big guns for the big occasions”. After a slow start to the season, they have recovered to a comfortable mid-table position although were surprised last time out by Scotstown. JP Mone may be absent on Sunday but Dessie, Vinny Corey and Conor McManus will be present and will be more than a handful for the Pearse Bros’ defence.
Ballybay sit proudly, unbeaten, at the top of the Senior League. 5 wins and 1 draw illustrates the excellent start. Paul Finlay has been leading the attack with his usual panache and the find of the season, Christopher McGuinness, has been tormenting the best of backs. Add to this, the speed of Thomas Kerr and the “old head” of Hughie Malone, and the Ballybay forwards can be easily described as the “Best Around”.
A Truly Classic Ecounter. So come and see the best and make your way to O’Neill Park, Clontibret, next Sunday, 22nd May. Throw-In at 5pm. This will be the game of the year so far.