Men From Stony Grey Soil Go Down Rocky Road
Dublin v Monaghan
Despite their exploits in recent seasons, Monaghan’s 2008 scaring of Kerry is my favourite Farney memory.
As a kid I attended their valiant draw with the Kingdom in ’85 and their inevitable replay defeat, but that 2008 battle with the then three-in-a-row seeking Kerry highlighted Monaghan’s love of the ‘no-hopers’ tag.
Last year’s Ulster Final win against Donegal was, in hindsight, about the Great Hunger (no more Patrick Kavanagh references, I promise) of a side starved of the Anglo-Celt against one fatted by having landed two-in-a-row.
Dublin look unflappable and unstoppable. Injuries to Cluxton, MDM, Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan would probably need a panel dose of severe gastroenteritis added in before confidence in Dublin waned.
Can Monaghan cause a bit of flapping or even a major shock?
Dublin’s form has been phenomenal. As league winners they blew Cork away in the second half and destroyed Derry’s 2014 confidence in the final. Despite toying with Laois and Wexford in the opening halves, the fresh and talented legs they have at their disposal means that they blow teams away late on.
They’ve smashed the handicap in all their games this championship with their disposal of Meath particularly frightening. The sides were playing a different game entirely.
Monaghan have had an historic year already. Winning Division 2 against Donegal in Croker was probably their performance of the season, but they’ve also accounted for Armagh and Tyrone in the championship.
Tyrone had the Indian sign over these players so that was a significant scalp. They looked clueless against Donegal’s tenacity and tactics in the Ulster Final, but the manner of their extra-time win over Kildare showed that their belief and trademark determination is still intact.
However, Dublin decimated a Meath by 16 points outfit that had beaten Kildare by five. An extension of that form leaves Monaghan with quite a bit to find.
Monaghan are named as unchanged from their Kildare win, while the Dubs see Eoghan O’Gara and Jonny Cooper replace Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey.
If Dublin bring the pace and power that they’ve displayed all year, then Monaghan, brave as they may battle, won’t have the resources to stand the heat in Croker. Dublin are unlikely to be physically ‘put off’ either.
On the plus side, Monaghan won’t face the strangling tactics employed by Donegal and that will test the Dublin full-back line. Conor McManus, Kieran Hughes, and the goal-hungry Chris McGuinness are able operators.
Malachy O’Rourke will have pored over the footage and will have Monaghan tactically ready, so, like Laois and Wexford, Monaghan should be able to make a game of this early doors. Running 50 yards to cut off kick-out options is thankless work that takes its toll, however, and when the likes of Cormac Costello, Paul Mannion, Dean Rock and Jack McCaffrey are sprung, and Dublin’s energy is boosted, Monaghan will struggle to keep pace.
Monaghan led Tyrone 0-08 to 0-07 at half-time, all square at half-time with Armagh in the drawn game and led by four against Armagh in the replay.
They trailed Donegal by two at the short whistle playing as bad as they could play, they also trailed by three against Kildare as two Emmet Bolton goals saw them 2-5 to 0-8 behind.
Dublin were two behind to Laois, four up against Wexford and were 1-10 to 0-06 up against a hapless Meath side.
Monaghan will come out all guns blazing, and they are a good side. After their league final win I thought they were one of the sides that could beat the Dubs on a given day, and while their championship hasn’t been that impressive, they can keep within five of Dublin in the first half. I’d much prefer to be on that than the 9 points full-time market. If Monaghan aren’t within five at half-time, then nine is dust after 70.
Take the Farney men to go at it early doors and cause concern at half-time.