Allianz National Football League Division Two
Monaghan v Louth, Sunday, 2.30, Clones
Monaghan will be determined to return to winning ways in the Allianz NFL when they host Louth on Sunday. The build-up to the game has been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the venue after Monaghan had been ordered to play in Louth due to the half-time scuffle in the round-two game against Kildare, but the Disputes Resolution Authority overturned that decision late on Wednesday night. Both teams will want to put that behind them and concentrate on producing a performance and getting a result on Sunday.
Monaghan’s campaign so far has seen away defeats against Meath and Derry sandwich an impressive home win over Kildare. Louth have had a win, a draw and a defeat so far. The victory was at the expense of Westmeath in the opening round, before they took a share from the spoils against the odds in Galway and lost to in-form Tyrone last time out. Despite being near-neighbours and regularly playing each other in challenge matches, Monaghan and Louth haven’t met in a competitive fixture since 2006 and even that was only a Tommy Murphy Cup game when current Farney boss Eamon McEneaney managed the Wee County to victory against his native county, so the last big game between the two was Monaghan’s qualifier win in 2005.
Tommy Freeman boosted Monaghan by making his return to competitive action last Saturday evening and he looked sharp so he could be in contention to start this one, which would ease some of the attacking burden on Paul Finlay, who has been the main man up front in the absence of both Freeman and Conor McManus, who is slowly returning to fitness after a hip injury. Kieran Hughes and Owen Duffy will also be expected to chip in with a few scores for Monaghan, who could again field an experienced midfield duo of Owen Lennon and Dick Clerkin. Captain Darren Hughes, Vincent Corey and Dessie Mone are the central figures in defence.
Louth have a strong midfield partnership in the county’s only ever All-Star Paddy Keenan and former Australian Rules player Brian Donnelly, while Andy McDonnell, Ronan Carroll, Derek Maguire and Mick Fanning should also play key roles for Peter Fitzpatrick’s side.
Monaghan need to make a statement after the poor showing last weekend as well as making home advantage count after the efforts extended to secure it and a second win of the league campaign is well within their grasp.
Monaghan NFL scorers 2012:
Paul Finlay 0-11 (6f)
Owen Duffy 0-5 (1f)
James Turley 1-1
Kieran Hughes 0-4
Darren Hughes 0-3 (1f)
Dermot Malone, Matthew McKenna 0-2 each
David Hughes, Tommy Freeman, Dick Clerkin, Donal Morgan, Vincent Corey, Neil McAdam 0-1 each
Allianz National Hurling League Division 3A
Fingal v Monaghan, Sunday, 2.30, Druimnigh*
* Please note this game will now take place in the Trinity Gaels pitch on the Druimnigh Road, Donaghmede, as Lawless Memorial Park in Swords is closed for works
Monaghan will attempt to build on their winning start to the NHL when they travel to north Dublin for the third time in just over a year to play Fingal.
Monaghan started their campaign on a positive note by beating Donegal, but Fingal will be a step up after they got off on the front foot with a fine win in Louth. Monaghan played away to the north-Dublin side twice last year, losing heavily in the league but battling their way to a well-merited win in the Nicky Rackard Cup, so these teams are more than familiar with each other at this stage.
New Monaghan manager Mattie Lennon fielded an experienced team last time out, which included no debutants. Free-taker Mickey McHugh, who put on an exhibition of point-scoring at this venue in the Rackard Cup last year, will be key once again for Monaghan, who will also be looking to Stephen Lambe, Seán Leonard and Michael Lennon to contribute on the scoreboard. Gary Boyd and Trevor Hilliard have got off to a good start at midfield, while Jim McHugh, Paul Murphy and Peter and Mark Treanor are sure to figure in defence.
John Matthew Sheridan is the main marksman for Fingal, who will also be looking for big performances from Ross McGarry, Colm Foley, Andrew Richardson, Michael Cussen and Peter Daly. This will be a step-up for Monaghan, who will need to at least match if not improve on the performance in last year’s Rackard Cup win if they are to come away with another positive result.
Bord Gáis Ladies National Football League Division One
Tyrone v Monaghan, Sunday, 2.00, Omagh
Monaghan’s senior ladies footballers have another Ulster derby away to Tyrone on Sunday as they look to continue their impressive form in the NFL.
Monaghan hit top gear last Sunday with a comprehensive defeat of Donegal, which added to wins over Laois and Meath and a loss to Cork has them tied for second in the league table. Meanwhile, Tyrone’s only win so far came against Kildare and they have been beaten by Dublin, Laois and Meath, so Monaghan will be favourites to repeat last year’s Ulster final victory.
Ciara McAnespie and Cathriona McConnell netted twice each last Sunday, while Caoimhe Mohan also continued her goal-scoring run, so Monaghan are certainly potent in attack, where Therese McNally and Ellen McCarron can also expect to figure. Sharon Courtney, Gráinne McNally and Aoife McAnespie are the key players in defence, while Amanda Casey could return to bolster the Monaghan midfield. Tyrone will need Joline Donnelly, Gemma Begley, Shannon Quinn and Orla O’Neill on form if they are to overturn the Ulster champions.
Monaghan Ladies NFL scorers 2012:
Caoimhe Mohan 4-8
Cathriona McConnell 2-10
Ciara McAnespie 2-7
Ellen McCarron 1-9
Niamh Kindlon 0-3
Therese McNally 0-2
Natasha Mohan, Laura McEnaney, Eileen McKenna, Gráinne McNally, Isabel Kieran 0-1 each
Ulster Minor Hurling League Division Two
Fermanagh v Monaghan, Saturday, 12.00, Maguiresbridge
Monaghan’s minor hurlers start their Ulster MHL campaign on Saturday with an away game against Fermanagh.
Monaghan defeated Fermanagh on their way to reaching the final last year, where they gave a battling performance against Tyrone, but they disappointed in the championship, falling to a surprise defeat against Cavan, so they will be keen to put that behind them by getting off to a good start to 2012. The former senior management team of Frank Brady, Arthur Hughes and Alan Ryan are now with the minors and they will be keen to get up and running on Saturday.
Quinn’s Corner Ulster Club Senior Football League Semi-Final
Killybegs v Castleblayney, Saturday, 2.30, Killybegs
Castleblayney will travel to Killybegs this Saturday for a semi-final in the Quinn’s Corner Ulster Club Senior Football League. Blayney booked their place in the last four last Saturday when they defeated Moortown from Tyrone to secure second place in Group C and the best runners-up spot. Blayney won three and drew two of their five group games, beating Moortown, Glenullin and Steelstown and drawing with Dromore and Saturday’s opponents.
Both Blayney and Killybegs, who won all of their other four games, are still unbeaten in the competition and they drew in their last meeting less than two weeks ago, so a close game is in prospect when the Monaghan men make the long trip to Donegal. Blayney will of course be without county men Dermot Malone and Ciarán Hanratty, but they should be able to call on the likes of Gary Ward, Cormac Brady, Keith Hill, Paddy Mallon and Jerry Brady, as well as new recruits from Ballyshannon, Conor and Michael Gurn. Despite reaching a county final as recently as 2010, when they lost to Naomh Cónaill, Killybegs are unburdened by the absence of players due to inter-county involvement, although goalkeeper Michael Mullen and defender Jason Noctor have played for Donegal and they also have players like Conal Molloy and Christopher Murrin.
Throw-in on Saturday is at 2.30pm at Eamonn Byrne Memorial Park in Killybegs. The other semi-final is an all-Derry clash between Slaughtneil and Ballinderry, which is fixed for March 18.
There are games down for decision in three divisions of the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League over the weekend. The only game in Division One sees Tyholland and Truagh get their campaigns underway on Saturday, while Inniskeen and Scotstown have home games against Aughnamullen and Emyvale respectively in Division Three. In Division Four, Éire Óg and Killanny host Fergal O’Hanlons and Monaghan Harps on Sunday.
Meanwile, Carrickmacross have an away game against St. Fechin’s from Termonfeckin in Louth on Friday night in Division 5A of the Táin Club Hurling League.