Allianz National Football League Division One
Tyrone v Monaghan, Saturday, 7.00, Omagh
Monaghan begin their return to Division One of the Allianz NFL with a local derby against Tyrone at Healy Park on Saturday evening.
Monaghan started their Dr. McKenna Cup campaign with an emphatic win over Ulster University before bowing out with defeats against Down and Cavan, while Tyrone won the pre-season competition for the fourth year in a row. Mickey Harte’s side saw off Armagh (twice), St. Mary’s University and Antrim to reach yet another final, where they produced an impressive second-half performance to overturn a four-point deficit against Cavan.
These counties have clashed regularly at all levels down through the years and Tyrone have held the edge for the majority, but Monaghan ended a 25-year wait for a championship win over their neighbours in last June’s Ulster SFC quarter-final. This is a first Division One campaign for Monaghan since 2011 – coming after back-to-back promotions – while Tyrone have been almost ever-present in the top flight since the turn of the century.
The Monaghan team shows six personnel changes from the Cavan game, with Rory Beggan, Kieran Hughes and Conor McManus all making their first county appearances of the year and Ryan Wylie, Darren Hughes and NFL debutant Daniel McKenna also drafted in. Tyrone have made the same number of changes, with Ronan McNamee, Mattie Donnelly, Colm Cavanagh, PJ Lavery, Peter Hughes and Darren McCurry handed starting berths.
Tyrone: Niall Morgan; Aidan McCrory, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron; Ronan McNabb, Mattie Donnelly, Barry Tierney; Colm Cavanagh, Pádraig McNulty; PJ Lavery, Ronan O’Neill, Peter Hughes; Darren McCurry, Seán Cavanagh, Niall McKenna.
Subs: Michael O’Neill, Rory Brennan, Connor McAliskey, Cónall McCann, Tiernan McCann, Shea McGuigan, Emmett McKenna, Ryan McKenna, Justin McMahon, Cathal McShane.
Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Fintan Kelly, Drew Wylie, Ryan Wylie; Dessie Mone, Neil McAdam, Kieran Duffy; Darren Hughes, Dick Clerkin; Kieran Hughes, Stephen Gollogly, Owen Duffy; Dermot Malone, Daniel McKenna, Conor McManus.
Subs: Enda Duffy, John McCarron, Conor Boyle, Karl O’Connell, Vincent Corey, Paddy McGuigan, Paul Finlay, Thomas Connolly, Ryan McAnespie, Brendan McElroy, Paul Meegan.
Shamrock Cup Round One
Monaghan v Louth, Sunday, 2.00, Inniskeen
After their elimination from the Hastings tournament, Monaghan’s Under-21 footballers turn their attentions to the Shamrock Cup when Louth make the short journey to Páirc Grattan on Sunday afternoon.
Monaghan won two of their three Hastings Cup group games against Wicklow and Westmeath – either side of a heavy defeat away to Mayo – before losing to Kerry in the shield semi-finals. In contrast, this is a first competitive outing of the year for Louth.
Only Kevin Loughran, Fergal Malone and Dónal Meegan have been ever-present so far in a Monaghan team that has been constantly changing for each game and with some U-21s expected to feature for the seniors on Saturday evening, the search for a settled team will continue. Cian Doyle, Robbie Curran and Josh Arrowsmith could feature for the Wee County.
The Cremartin-organised tournament also includes Tyrone and Antrim, who got things underway in Garvaghey on Friday night, when the Red Hand County had a comprehensive win.
Ladies National Football League Division One
Dublin v Monaghan, Sunday, 2.00, DCU
Monaghan’s ladies footballers play their first competitive match of Peter Clarke’s reign as manager against last year’s All-Ireland runners-up Dublin at DCU’s St. Clare’s grounds on Sunday.
Monaghan reached the league semi-finals last year, when they narrowly lost a high-scoring thriller against Sunday’s opponents. The then Ulster champions later relinquished their provincial title to Armagh, while Dublin, who have former Monaghan manager Gregory McGonigle at the helm, won Leinster and reached the All-Ireland final, where they suffered a heartbreaking defeat after a remarkable comeback by Cork.
Monaghan have Caoimhe Mohan back in the fold for the start of the year after she spent part of last summer in the USA and she is likely to play a key role, along with the likes of Cora and Sharon Courtney, Cathriona McConnell, Ciara and Aoife McAnespie and Gráinne McNally. Lyndsey Davey, Sinéad Goldrick, Sarah McCaffrey and Lucy Collins will be expected to be to the fore for Dublin.
Meanwhile, Saturday at 12 noon sees St. Macartan’s College put their Danske Bank Ulster Colleges MacRory Cup hopes on the line in their play-off at Emyvale against St. Patrick’s, Maghera. The Sem struggled in the group stages, but they did defeat St. Michael’s, Lurgan in their first knock-out game to earn this tilt against three-in-a-row-chasing Maghera.