Allianz National Football League Division Two
Westmeath v Monaghan, Sunday, 2.30, Mullingar
Monaghan will attempt to build on last weekend’s win over Louth when they play Westmeath at Cusack Park in Mullingar this Sunday.
Monaghan have mixed the good with the bad in their league campaign so far, mixing encouraging wins in the Kildare and Louth games with defeats against Meath and Derry, so a first away victory of the season will be targeted on Sunday. Westmeath have lost three of their four matches – against Louth, Meath and Tyrone – but their performance in edging out Galway offers Monaghan a warning that Pat Flanagan’s side can turn it on.
Monaghan haven’t played a competitive match against Westmeath since the Leinster county won a promotion decider in Clones four years ago and it has been a long number of years since they played at Mullingar, so there is very little history between these groups of players.
Monaghan have major doubts over key forwards Tommy Freeman and Kieran Hughes and if they don’t make it, it will increase the burden on Paul Finlay, Christopher McGuinness and Owen Duffy, who were all on song last Sunday. The Farney men will be relying on Owen Lennon, Dick Clerkin and James Turley to win their fair share of possession around midfield, while Darren Hughes, Dessie Mone and Vincent Corey provide an experienced backbone to the defence.
Westmeath will still be without their Garrycastle contingent on Sunday with the Athlone club set to contest the All-Ireland SFC Final against Crossmaglen on Saturday. The sooner-than-expected return of John Heslin from the AFL has boosted Westmeath in recent weeks and they also possess quality players in full-back Kieran Gavin, forwards Denis and David Glennon, the versatile Michael Ennis and goalkeeper Gary Connaughton, who remains one of the best shot-stoppers around.
This is a must-win game for Monaghan to prove that the fluent attacking display against Louth wasn’t a once-off and Eamon McEneaney’s men should be able to secure the two points and take a huge step towards at least staying in Division Two for next year.
Monaghan NFL scorers 2012:
Paul Finlay 0-16 (9f)
Owen Duffy 0-9 (5f)
Christopher McGuinness, Darren Hughes (1-0 pen, 0-1f), James Turley 1-3 each
Tommy Freeman, Kieran Hughes 0-4 each
Dick Clerkin 0-3
Stephen Gollogly, Owen Lennon, Dermot Malone, Matthew McKenna 0-2 each
Ciarán Hanratty, David Hughes, Donal Morgan, Vincent Corey, Neil McAdam 0-1 each
Allianz National Hurling League Division 3A
Monaghan v Louth, Sunday, 2.30, Inniskeen
Monaghan will aim to maintain their 100% start to the NHL Division 3A campaign in Sunday’s local derby against Louth at Páirc Grattan.
Monaghan have two wins under their belts after getting the better of Donegal and Fingal, which leaves them three points ahead of Louth, who lost to Fingal before drawing with Sligo in a game where the Wee County twice let healthy leads slip. The teams have met a number of times in recent years, most recently in last year’s Nicky Rackard Cup semi-finals, when Louth finished strongly to book their place in the final.
As ever, Mickey McHugh’s free-taking is likely to be crucial for Monaghan, but Mattie Lennon will also be looking for big performances from Gary Boyd and Trevor Hilliard in midfield, Paul Murphy, Jim McHugh and Peter Treanor in defence and Stephen Lambe and Seán Leonard up front. Shane Fennell, Brian Corcoran, Shane Callan, Wesley Morrissey, Adrian Wallace and Donagh O’Sullivan will be expected to lead the way for Louth.
Louth will be gunning to get their first victory of the Division 3A season, but Monaghan have built up some momentum and are well capable of making it a hat-trick of wins.
Monaghan NHL scorers 2012:
Mickey McHugh 0-16 (15f, 1 ’65)
Seán Leonard 1-4
Noel Morgan 0-4
Paul Meegan, Gary Boyd, Trevor Hilliard, Martin Murphy 0-2 each
Stephen Lambe, Peter Treanor 0-1 each
Bord Gáis Ladies National Football League Division One
Monaghan v Dublin, Sunday, 2.00, Aughnamullen
With a place in the semi-finals of the NFL Division One secured once again, Monaghan’s senior ladies team can look forward to Sunday’s game at home to already-qualified Dublin with confidence.
The only blemish to Monaghan’s 2012 record to date is a defeat away to the team who beat them in last year’s All-Ireland final, Cork, with wins over Laois, Donegal, Meath and Tyrone. Dublin are on a very similar run, as they are ahead of Monaghan on score-difference in second place and their one loss so far was also against the All-Ireland champions, sandwiched by victories against Kildare, Donegal, Tyrone and Meath.
Both teams may use this game for a certain amount of experimentation, but they will be nonetheless keen to take another win and keep momentum going. Monaghan have had an excellent spread of scores in the current campaign, with Caoimhe Mohan, Ellen McCarron, Cathriona McConnell, Ciara McAnespie and Niamh Kindlon all having plenty of joy in front of the posts, so Gregory McGonigle will hope that continues. Sharon Courtney, Gráinne McNally and Aoife McAnespie are also key players for Monaghan, who may re-introduce Therese McNally and Amanda Casey to the starting team. Sinéad Ahern, Sinéad Goldrick, Niamh McEvoy and Gemma Fay are among the ones to watch for Dublin.
Monaghan Ladies NFL scorers 2012:
Caoimhe Mohan 4-8
Ellen McCarron 1-14
Cathriona McConnell 2-10
Ciara McAnespie 2-8
Niamh Kindlon 0-8
Isabel Kieran, Therese McNally 0-2 each
Natasha Mohan, Laura McEnaney, Eileen McKenna, Gráinne McNally 0-1 each
Ulster Minor Hurling League Division Two
Cavan v Monaghan, Friday, 8.30, Kingspan Breffni Park
*Note change from Saturday to Friday
After drawing with Fermanagh in their opening Ulster MHL Division Two game last Saturday, Monaghan are away again on Friday night when they face Cavan, who put up a good showing in their narrow defeat against Tyrone last time out.
Jamie Guinan, Michael O’Dowd, Aodh Curran, Niall Garland and Donal and Colm Meegan are the key players for Monaghan, who are mentored by former senior management team Frank Brady, Arthur Hughes and Alan Ryan. Monaghan will remember only too well their defeat to Cavan in last year’s Ulster MHC, so they will be determined to take both points from Breffni Park on Saturday.
There are games down for decision in three divisions of the Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League over the weekend. First up is the Division Two game between Corduff and Killeevan under lights at the former venue on Friday night, followed by clashes between Drumhowan and Doohamlet, Ballybay and Donaghmoyne and Carrickmacross and Cremartin on the morning of Saturday (St. Patrick’s Day). Also on Saturday, Fergal O’Hanlons host Truagh in Division Four. On Sunday, Clontibret, Latton and Monaghan Harps have home games against Magheracloone, Scotstown and Castleblayney respectively in Division One, before Clones travel to Emyvale for a floodlit game on Monday night.