Allianz National Hurling League Division 3A
Monaghan v Donegal, Sunday, 2.30, Clones
Monaghan begin their National Hurling League campaign and life under new manager Mattie Lennon in Clones this Sunday when they take on Donegal.
Former Armagh manager Mattie Lennon took over the reins in Monaghan late last year and quickly hit the ground running with training, so he will hope to do likewise in his first competitive match in charge. Donegal finished fifth in Division 3B last year, two points ahead of Monaghan who they defeated by four points in Clones. The latest redrawing of the NHL divisions has seen both counties placed in 3A.
New captain Gary Boyd will be expected to lead the Monaghan challenge, along with Stephen Lambe, Mickey McHugh, Ronan Meegan, Trevor Hilliard and Peter Treanor. Donegal are set to be without a number of regulars from recent years, including Colm Breathnach, Ciarán Dowd and Mickey McCann, but they should be able to select Kevin and Niall Campbell, as well as the stars of last year’s Ulster Under-21 Shield success like Ciarán Matthewson, Lee Henderson and Seán McVeigh.
There has been little between these teams in their fairly regular meetings in recent years and a similar outcome can be expected on Sunday, when home advantage may help to tip the balance in Monaghan’s favour.
At around the same time as the game in Clones, some Monaghan footballers will be hoping to taste inter-provincial championship success with Ulster. Scotstown star Darren Hughes is the Ulster captain for the final against Munster, which takes place in Armagh’s Athletic Grounds at 2pm. Some other Monaghan players who could be involved are Darren’s brother Kieran, Latton midfielder Owen Lennon, Clontibret’s Vincent Corey and Ballybay sharp-shooter Paul Finlay.
Some of the county’s best young players will also looking to get their hands on medals at the weekend when NUI Galway host the finals weekend of the Sigerson Cup. There will be particular local interest in the semi-final between DCU and UUJ, which could feature as many as five Monaghan players. Monaghan Harps midfielder Neil McAdam and Scotstown forward Kieran Hughes have played key roles in UUJ’s run to this stage, while Clontibret back Dessie Mone and Truagh attacker Daniel McKenna are also part of the Poly’s panel. Aughnamullen’s Pete Dooney will hope to be involved for a star-studded DCU side, although Jack McCarron from Currin misses out with a shoulder injury. The game takes place at 3.30 on Friday, following the other semi-final between holders UCC and NUI Maynooth. The final will be played on Saturday.
Both Monaghan representatives in the Ulster Club Senior Football League have home games this Saturday in round four. Unbeaten Castleblayney take on Killybegs from Donegal in Oram in Group C and Truagh welcome Tyrone side Derrylaughan to St. Mellan’s for their Group A. None of the three Monaghan clubs in the Táin Hurling League are in action this weekend.