Galway game crucial for Monaghan’s chances

By Shaun Casey

TWO of Monaghan’s next three fixtures are on home soil and if anyone can survive when the going gets tough, it’s the Farney County, although things certainly won’t be straightforward.

The first of those home games comes this weekend against Galway, with Tyrone (away) and Mayo (home) to follow. The Tribesmen aren’t out of the woods themselves just yet as they sit one point ahead of Monaghan at the bottom end of the table.

With Dublin and Kerry to come in the last two games for Padraic Joyce’s men, they’ll be keen to gather two points this Saturday afternoon to help ease their own concerns of slipping down to Division Two.

2024 isn’t the first time Monaghan have been down on their luck and fell to the bottom of the Division One table but unlike any other year, this feels different. It’s just all going wrong for Vinny Corey’s men.

And it’s nobody’s fault. They competed for so long because they had the players to do that but with injuries, retirements and the countdown of Father Time’s clock, things are starting to slow down a little.

Everyone knows the big names that are absent from the Monaghan team sheet at the minute, with the likes of Conor McManus still waiting on the wings, but Ryan McAnespie, Stephen O’Hanlon and Gary Mohan have been added to their growing injury list.

Dessie Ward and Karl O’Connell did earn their first league starts of the season in last week’s 12-point defeat to fellow relegation candidates Roscommon, while Stephen Mooney made his league debut.

Mooney was among the scorers, claiming one of Monaghan’s seven points, while Jack McCarron (0-2), Kieran Duffy, Michéal McCarville, Jason Irwin and Ciaran McNulty also raised white flags.

The good news for Monaghan is that McManus was a late inclusion in the squad last Sunday and wore the number 20 shirt but despite taking part in the pre-game warm up, remained on the sideline.

It’s usually around this time of year that the Clontibret clubman returns from his winter hibernation and emerges just in time to save Monaghan’s bacon and perhaps he’ll earn some game-time this weekend.

Galway are currently playing without a few of their own big names. Paul Conroy and Matthew Tierney both picked up injuries against Tyrone and were absent for last week’s loss to table-toppers Derry.

They join an injury list that already includes Shane Walsh, Damien Comer, Liam Silke and Cillian McDaid so Joyce won’t have much sympathy for the injury crisis his Monaghan counterpart Corey is facing.

Galway won the fixture this time last year, also in round five, when a Johnny Heaney goal helped the men in maroon earn a 1-13 to 0-10 win. Despite that defeat, Monaghan clung onto their status with a final round win over Mayo and perhaps history will repeat itself in 2024.

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