Allianz National Football League Division One
Monaghan v Dublin, Sunday, 2.00, Clones
Monaghan start their 2019 Allianz NFL Division One campaign with a high-profile fixture when league and All-Ireland champions Dublin visit Clones on Sunday.
Monaghan fell just short of reaching the Division One final last year, despite edging Dublin in the last round at Croke Park, having previously suffered a string of narrow league defeats against Jim Gavin’s side. Monaghan will be hoping for another strong run in their fifth consecutive top-flight spring, following back-to-back promotions in 2013 and 2014. Both counties are likely to field much-changed teams from the pre-season competitions, where Monaghan exited the Dr. McKenna Cup at the group stage and a fringe Dublin selection lost to Westmeath in the O’Byrne Cup Final.
Monaghan should be able to call on All-Stars Rory Beggan and Karl O’Connell, with Ryan Wylie, Kieran Duffy, Darren Hughes, Fintan Kelly and Colin Walshe also likely to provide experience to the side in the absence of Niall Kearns, Kieran Hughes and newcomer Jamie Walshe.
Injury is set to keep James McCarthy out of the start of the current campaign, but the Dubs could still feature stars like Brian Fenton, Jack McCaffrey, Brian Howard, Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan, as well as the upcoming Conor McHugh, Paddy Small, Ryan and Colm Basquel and Stephen Smith.
Allianz National Hurling League Division 3A
Monaghan v Armagh, Sunday, 12.15, Inniskeen
Monaghan’s hurlers begin their 2019 Allianz NHL bid against Armagh in Inniskeen on Sunday.
Monaghan hurling has been boosted recently by Castleblayney qualifying for the All-Ireland Club JHC Final, although that may have a short-term knock-on effect on the county team’s prospects in the league. Monaghan missed out on qualifying for the final after a competitive Division 3A campaign last year, while Armagh were relegated from Division 2B before also being demoted from the Christy Ring Cup, having contested the 2017 Nicky Rackard Final.
The absence of the Blayney contingent will increase Monaghan’s reliance on big performances from the likes of Kevin Crawley, Jamie Guinan, Martin Murphy, Éamonn Collins, Patrick Bermingham and Conor Boyle. Ruairi Fullerton, Danny Magee, Dean Gaffney, Stephen Renaghan and Eoin McGuinness will provide major threats from Armagh.
Monaghan’s last remaining representatives in the 2019 Danske Bank Ulster Schools MacRory Cup put their hopes on the line on Saturday. Patrician High School, Carrickmacross contest a rescheduled play-off in Lurgan against holders St. Ronan’s College at 1pm.