Previews (February 19-21)
Once again, there are three Monaghan county teams in action this weekend, including the Under-21s in Cremartin’s Shamrock Cup Final, while there will also be plenty of local interest in the Sigerson finals in Belfast.
Allianz National Hurling League Division 3A
Roscommon v Monaghan, Sunday, 2.00, Athleague
Monaghan’s senior hurlers travel to Athleague for round two of the NHL on Sunday.
Monaghan fell short with a second-half comeback at home to Tyrone in round one, while Roscommon left Darver with a hard-earned win over Louth. Monaghan got their first win of the last two league campaigns at the expense of Sunday’s opponents, although Roscommon have proved too strong later in the year in the Nicky Rackard Cup, including last year when they went all the way to victory at Croke Park.
Monaghan will hope to have the likes of Peter and Mark Treanor, Stephen Lambe and Fergal Rafter on top form if they are to get their bid to reach another final on track, while Jerry Fallon, Liam Kilcline, Jason Kilkenny, Cathal Dolan and Micheál Kelly should be among the main men for Roscommon.
Under-21 Shamrock Cup Final
Monaghan v Tyrone, Sunday, 2.00, Cremartin
Monaghan’s Under-21 footballers once again take on Tyrone in the Shamrock Cup Final in a repeat of last year’s decider.
Tyrone have blazed a trail on their way to this final; following a win over Monaghan by blitzing Louth with seven goals last weekend, while Monaghan have beaten Louth and Antrim, either side of that loss to their neighbours.
Adam Treanor has been in prolific form for Monaghan, who could feature senior players like Barry McGinn, Ryan McAnespie and Conor McCarthy for the first time this year. Tyrone can call on a number of last year’s All-Ireland Under-21 winners and players such as Lee Brennan, Ryan Loughran, Pádraig McGirr and Ruairí McGlone should be to the fore.
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division One
Armagh v Monaghan, Sunday, 2.00, Pearse Óg
Monaghan’s senior ladies bid for their first win of 2016 when they travel to Armagh – note change of venue.
A new-look Monaghan team started their campaign with defeats against Galway and Dublin and it doesn’t look set to get any easier as they face an Armagh side unbeaten to date under the guidance of Ronan Clarke. Impressive wins over Tyrone and Kerry have the 2014 Ulster champions in flying form.
New manager Paula Cunningham will be looking for big performances from the likes of Cora and Sharon Courtney, Gráinne McNally, Therese Scott, the McAnespies and Ellen McCarron if Monaghan are to claim their first points. Aimee Mackin, Lauren McConville, Kelly Mallon, Caroline O’Hanlon and Mairéad Tennyson have been impressing for Armagh.
Meanwhile, a strong contingent of Monaghan players will make their way to Belfast for the Sigerson finals weekend. Ballybay’s Young Footballer of the Year nominee Ryan Wylie will captain UCD, who also have Scotstown forward Conor McCarthy involved. Another Scotstown attacker, Shane Carey, is joined on Niall Moyna’s DCU side by Paudie McKenna from Truagh and Dessie Ward of Ballybay. Their semi-final opponents tomorrow will be hosts UUJ, who have Scotstown’s Kieran Hughes and Rory Beggan and Emyvale’s Ryan McAnespie on a star-studded panel as they attempt to make home advantage count.
The lower-tier third-level competitions also come to a conclusion over the next few days at Jordanstown. Much local attention will focus on Dundalk IT, who take on Liverpool Hope University in the Trench Cup semi-finals, with established Monaghan seniors Kieran Duffy (Latton) and Daniel McKenna (Truagh) leading the way and Inniskeen duo Dónal and Colm Meegan, Owen Coyle (Latton), Alan McCahey (Magheracloone), Shane McElroy (Donaghmoyne), Jason Murphy (Toome) and Eddie Markey (Killanny) also hoping to be involved. Blackhill’s Thomas Courtney is part of a Letterkenny IT panel who face Waterford IT.