Power NI Dr. McKenna Cup Section B
Monaghan v Down, Sunday, 2.00, Clones
Monaghan will be attempting to build on their opening-round win over St. Mary’s when they host Down in Clones on Sunday.
A strong finish saw Monaghan run out winners with eight points to spare against the Belfast university, but Down will present a much tougher proposition for Eamon McEneaney’s men this week. Down also started off with an eight-point win – an impressive defeat of local rivals Armagh – and their manager James McCartan expressed his satisfaction with the performance of his team, particularly the newcomers. The most high-profile addition to the Down panel is former Armagh minor Conor Gough, a 6’ 5” midfielder who opted to transfer to the Mourne county after leading St. Colman’s, Newry to MacRory and Hogan Cup success.
Monaghan, who have also won challenge matches against Fermanagh and Dublin in the early days of the new year, featured six debutants against St. Mary’s, with Tyholland speedster Karl O’Connell the most impressive so far in an unfamiliar corner-back role. Kieran Hughes, Dessie Mone, Neil McAdam and Daniel McKenna (all UUJ), David Hughes and Colin Walshe (both DIT), Jack McCarron and Pete Dooney (both DCU) and Paul McGuigan (Queen’s) are all unavailable due to college commitments, while the honeymooning Dick Clerkin and the injured Conor McManus are also out, but Monaghan can call on the experience of Darren Hughes, Vincent Corey, Paul Finlay and Stephen Gollogly to backbone the team. The new additions to the side will hope to get another chance to show their worth, while James Turley, Dermot Malone and Matthew McKenna will seek to build on strong performances against St. Mary’s.
Down may have lost Martin Clarke, Peter Fitzpatrick and Caolán Mooney to Australia, but they still have plenty of experience available in the likes of Benny Coulter, Dan Gordon, Danny Hughes and Kalum King, as well as Liam Doyle, who has returned from a long-term injury and Aidan Carr, who will be targeting a regular starting place after being restricted to a bit-part role in the last two years.
This will be a difficult assignment for Monaghan, with a good performance at least as important as the result as the build-up for the National Football League gathers pace.
*Updates from the game will again be available on the official Monaghan GAA twitter page – www.twitter.com/monaghangaa