Lidl Ladies National Football League Division One
Dublin v Monaghan, Sunday, 2.00, Naomh Mearnóg
Monaghan ladies start their NFL Division One campaign away to Dublin in Portmarnock on Sunday.
Monaghan overcame a turbulent start to 2016 to enjoy a progressive year; retaining top-flight status in the league and regaining the Ulster title. Paula Cunningham’s side saw their All-Ireland bid ended at the semi-final stage by Cork, who went on to controversially deny Dublin by the narrowest of margins in the decider. Former Monaghan manager Gregory McGonigle has handed the reins in Dublin to Mick Bohan, who is beginning a second term in charge of the five-in-a-row Leinster champions.
Monaghan will hope to be able to call on the likes of Ciara and Aoife McAnespie, Sharon and Cora Courtney, Gráinne McNally, Laura McEnaney and Cathriona McConnell, while Dublin have five current All-Stars in Sinéad Goldrick, Sinéad Aherne, Noelle Healy, Carla Rowe and Leah Caffrey, as well as the likes of Lindsey Davey and Sinéad Finnegan.
Under-21 Shamrock Cup Round One
Monaghan v Derry, Saturday, 4.00, Cloghan
Monaghan’s Under-21 footballers are joined by Derry, Armagh and Louth in the 2017 Shamrock Cup, starting against the Oak Leaf County at Cloghan on Saturday.
Monaghan are once again under the guidance of Ciarán McBride, who led them to a first Ulster U-21 title since 1999 last year, with players like Barry McGinn, Mikey Murnaghan, James Mealiff, David McAlister, Barry Kerr, Francis Maguire, Aaron Jones and John Beattie eligible. The first four of those featured for the county seniors in this month’s Dr. McKenna Cup. Saturday’s opponents Derry should be backboned by their 2015 Ulster MFC-winning team, although rising star Conor Glass was recruited by AFL team Hawthorn. Niall Keenan, Conor McGrogan, Danny Tallon, Oisín Duffin and Barry Grant are part of the Derry panel through to that evening’s McKenna Cup Final, while Shane McGuigan is preparing for an All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final with Slaughtneil.
The Danske Bank Ulster Schools MacRory Cup play-off between Patrician High School, Carrickmacross and St. Patrick’s College, Maghera takes place on Friday night at 7.30pm, with the Monaghan side facing the long journey to the Loup in Derry. David Garland hit 2-13 as Patrician ousted St. Pat’s, Dungannon after extra-time at the end of November and they will need more magic from the Donaghmoyne forward, as well as the likes of Seán Burns, Liam Óg Murray and Andrew Woods, if they are to dethrone the holders.
Meanwhile, Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblayney have their MacLarnon Cup quarter-final against St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny in Drumragh, Co Tyrone, on Saturday at 12 noon. Our Lady’s will be looking to Ulster Schools All-Stars James Wilson and Frank Connolly to lead them through to the last four.