Farney Army To March On In Clones
Monaghan v Donegal
Last year saw raw emotion course through Clones as Monaghan landed their first Ulster title since 1985. On Sunday the motivation is to go back to back for the first time since 1930.
On Sunday the motivation is to go back to back for the first time since 1930.
In their way are Donegal, All-Ireland champions in 2012. Have Donegal shaken off the hangover and regained the edge that saw them go all the way two years ago? Or are Monaghan the leading lights in Ulster?
Donegal look to have rediscovered their mojo with wins over Derry and Antrim. Those games followed their 2012 blueprint of shadowboxing in the first half before kicking on in the second half. The biggest blot on this year’s copy came in the Division 2 final which Monaghan won by 1-16 to 1-10.
Monaghan have had a terrific season thus far, backing up last year’s Anglo-Celt win with more silverware. In championship, they managed to remove the sizable Tyrone monkey off their backs and also added the scalp of Armagh after a second meeting.
Head to Head
Monaghan won last year’s final by 0-13 to 0-7. Donegal won their round 3 encounter in the league by 2-11 to 0-10, but Monaghan won the final in Croker, 1-16 to 1-10.
Monaghan are unchanged from their replay win over Armagh while Donegal have yet to be announced at time of print.
Rory Kavanagh will have his work cut out for him tacking an in-form Darren Hughes. Hughes hit two exquisite points in the replay against Armagh, and his threat going forward is a big one.
Kavanagh saw red in the league final when he jabbed Hughes in the ging gang goolies with his hand-held boot that had fallen off (the boot…not the goolies). Hughes surging runs set the tempo for Monaghan, and if he can hold sway in this head-to-head then Monaghan will be on the front foot.
This is a mouth-watering re-match between two sides marshalled by two of the best in the business.
McGuinness’ achievement leading Donegal from the abyss up the steps of the Hogan was colossal.
They looked spent last year, but the addition of Odhran MacNiallais and Darach O’Connor to the forward line has freshened matters up. While Ryan McHugh has played well, his brother’s absence may become felt in big games like this. A fit Karl Lacey is a massive plus though.
McGuinness will be hoping that Colm McFadden can find form and that Murphy can produce the magic he often conjures. Donegal are fresher going into this with less taxing games, though the fate that befell their conquests doesn’t augur well; Derry were hammered by Longford (who were in turn hammered by Tipp) and Antrim were beaten by Limerick (who were in turn beaten by Sligo).
Malachy O’Rourke would prefer to have Kieran Hughes at 100% and to have Eoin Lennon for the middle, but throughout this Farney side are quality players who want to drive on to better things. Winning last year’s Ulster title was tarnished by their subsequent loss to Tyrone; if they win Sunday having scalped Tyrone, Armagh and Donegal it’ll be on eto savour. Captain McManus can lead the way.