By Niall Gartland
CLONES will be without a few of their key names in this weekend’s Monaghan Junior Championship quarter-final against Oram, but manager Colum Monaghan is hopeful that the rest of the team show their worth on the big day.
County players Fintan Kelly and James Mealith are unlikely to play any part, but they have a good panel at present so it’s by no means all doom and gloom in the north Monaghan club.
Their manager Colum Monaghan is a native of Newtownbutler, just a few miles across the border, and while he doesn’t strike a self-pitying note, accepts they’re a big loss to his team.
“Fintan’s carried a bit of an injury throughout the championship and didn’t feature the last day. He won’t play this weekend.
“James wrecked the shoulder before Monaghan’s Ulster Championship campaign and it’s very doubtful that he’ll be back before the end of the season.
“Then there’s a former Fermanagh footballer Ben Daly, he plays for us but he’s away travelling. That’s three big players we’ve lost. Numbers are decent but when you remove that calibre of football at Junior level, it makes things more difficult.”
Clones finished top of their group despite a disappointing defeat to Sean McDermotts in their final match. Monaghan, who is in his second year in charge, says the standard of football at Junior level in the Farney County is commendable.
“It’s very strong, I’d have been involved with my club in Fermanagh and I still keep an eye on them. They’re at junior and the difference is night and day, though the quality at the upper end in Fermanagh is strong. We’ve ten competitive teams competing at Junior level in Monaghan and on their day any of them would fancy their chances.”
It’s very difficult to predict how the remainder of the Junior Championship will pan out as there are a number of contenders. Monaghan hopes that they will be able to cope with Oram’s physicality when the two sides meet this weekend.
“That’s the funny thing, last year was just the championship and we didn’t meet them, we avoided them in the league this year and this is our first outing against them so we’re stepping into the unknown a bit.
“They’re a big physical squad. They only scored five points the last day and they wouldn’t be best pleased with that I would imagine. I can’t see them having the same return again. They’re up from the other end of the county, they’re a fair old jaunt away. They’re a physical outfit which doesn’t always suit us.”