Monaghan’s senior footballers and hurlers have important away games in the Allianz National Leagues on Sunday. The county minor hurlers play their first game of the year on Saturday, while there are also reserve and minor football club fixtures over the weekend.
Allianz National Football League Division One
Donegal v Monaghan, Sunday, 2.00, Letterkenny
Monaghan will bid to bounce back from last weekend’s loss to Mayo when they travel to Letterkenny on Sunday.
Monaghan marked their return to Division One with an impressive win over Tyrone, but a defeat by the narrowest of margins against Cork was followed by that fruitless trip to Castlebar. The concession of two late goals, following red cards for Stephen Gollogly and Ryan Wylie, saw Monaghan’s score difference take a hit on a day that Sunday’s opponents held on to pick up their second win to keep the pace at the top. Donegal have already beaten Derry and Cork at home, either side of an away defeat against Dublin. These teams have crossed swords many times in the last few years, including two Ulster finals, the 2014 NFL Division Two decider and a league clash at O’Donnell Park 12 months ago, which the hosts won.
Malachy O’Rourke has named a team with two changes from last week. With Gollogly and Ryan Wylie suspended, Karl O’Connell has been handed a first NFL start of 2015, with Darren Hughes also set to return to the starting team. Injuries have robbed Monaghan of some seasoned campaigners so far, not least team captain Conor McManus, whose playing time has been restricted by ongoing management of an old hip problem.
Donegal, whose former selector Rory Gallagher has taken over from Jim McGuinness as manager, have been able to select hugely experienced teams to date. Talisman Michael Murphy is available despite being sent off on a second yellow card last Sunday, while Neil McGee, Karl Lacey, Frank McGlynn, Neil Gallagher, Christy Toye, Mark and Ryan McHugh and Paddy McBrearty give the Ulster champions a strong backbone and Anthony Thompson made a first appearance of the year as a substitute against Cork and is again on the bench for Donegal, whose team is unchanged from that match. Clontibret native and current Glenswilly player Éamon Ward featured for his adopted county in the Dr. McKenna Cup, but has yet to appear in the league.
A second consecutive away game and the first of back-to-back Ulster derbies is a big test for Monaghan, particularly with resources being stretched, but they will be determined to get back on track.
Donegal: Paul Durcan; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Éamonn Doherty; Ryan McHugh, Karl Lacey, Frank McGlynn; Neil Gallagher, Christy Toye; Martin O’Reilly, Odhrán Mac Niallais, Mark McHugh; Patrick McBrearty, Michael Murphy (Capt.), Hugh McFadden.
Subs: Michael Boyle, Declan Walsh, Éamon McGee, Ciarán McGinley, Martin McElhinney, Gary McFadden, Colm McFadden, Daniel McLaughlin, Anthony Thompson, Darach O’Connor, Joe Gibbons.
Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Conor Boyle, Drew Wylie, Kieran Duffy; Dessie Mone, Fintan Kelly, Karl O’Connell; Neil McAdam, Darren Hughes; Owen Duffy, Dermot Malone, Ryan McAnespie; Paul Finlay, Kieran Hughes, Daniel McKenna.
Subs: Enda Duffy, John McCarron, Paddy McGuigan, Vincent Corey, Dick Clerkin, Shane Carey, Christopher McKenna, Pádraig Donaghy, Thomas Connolly, Thomas Kerr, Paul Meegan.
Allianz National Hurling League Division 3A
Louth v Monaghan, Sunday, 2.00, Dowdallshill
Monaghan will bid to continue their unbeaten start to the NHL when they face Louth at Dowdallshill, Dundalk on Sunday.
A late rally to draw with Tyrone in Omagh and a good win over the Red Hands’ predecessors as Nicky Rackard Cup winners, Roscommon, have given Monaghan a great start to life under Trevor Hilliard. Louth have had mixed fortunes in their first two games; losing heavily to Roscommon, before convincingly defeating Fermanagh. These counties clash regularly at all levels, most recently in last year’s NHL, when Monaghan finished strongly to edge a one-point win in Aughnamullen.
Ronan Meegan has been in prolific form, with 0-13 to his name in the NHL, with Peter and Mark Treanor, Éanna Mac Suibhne, Fergal Rafter, Stephen Lambe, Niall Garland and Tony Forde other players adapting well to the new regime. Liam Dwan hit 0-10 for Louth last time out and their other key players include Gerard Smyth, Andrew Mackin, Shane Callan and Darren O’Hanrahan.
Ulster Minor Hurling League Division Two
Monaghan v Louth, Saturday, 12.00, Clones
Monaghan start their Ulster MHL campaign against Louth at St. Tiarnach’s Park on Saturday.
Monaghan have been strong contenders for this title in the last few years; winning it in 2012 and 2013 before losing out to Cavan last year. Monaghan were comprehensive winners over Louth 12 months ago.
Monaghan may be able to call on Ronan Curran, who has already featured for the county seniors, along with returning minor panellists from last year like Conor Flynn, Cathal Power, Aaron Gernon, Reece Treanor, Ruairí Forde and Mark Murphy.
The Platinum Tanks Reserve Football League Division 1A begins on Saturday with games between Latton and Scotstown and newly-promoted Cremartin and holders Clontibret, while Magheracloone travel to Truagh on Sunday. Saturday’s opening fixtures in Division 1B include two local derbies (Castleblayney v Ballybay and Tyholland v Emyvale), as well as Aughnamullen v Monaghan Harps. Donaghmoyne and Doohamlet have home advantage against Seán McDermotts and Rockcorry respectively in Division 2A, with Blackhill and Corduff hosting Carrickmacross and Inniskeen respectively in Division 2B. Clones make the trip to Toome in Division Three.
The McElvaney Recycling Minor Football League Division One gets underway on Saturday, when 2013 Under-16 double winners St. Patrick’s are away to Truagh.
Before all that, Largy College, Clones will seek to match the achievement of two Monaghan schools in qualifying for an Ulster U-18 & 1/2 final when they contest the Markey Cup semi-final against Donegal’s Coláiste na Carraige. Largy will be looking for big performances from the likes of Dermot Gleeson, James Mealiff, Michael and Ryan Tierney, James McElwain and Eoin McQuaid.