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McEneaney expecting another feisty chapter in Monaghan-Tyrone rivalry

By Niall McCoy

AS Eamon McEneaney knows all too well, matches between Monaghan and Tyrone can become full-blooded affairs – and he feels that Saturday’s Ulster Final should be no different.

McEneaney is a two-time Monaghan manager and was also one of their star players in 1988 when they claimed the Anglo Celt Cup in the first provincial final meeting between the two counties, even if he performed below par in the decider. That game was not without controversy as the Red Hands wanted a late penalty to potentially win the game when Noel McGinn hit the deck bursting through late on. It never arrived and the defender got up and screwed the ball wide.

Castleblayney native McEneaney expects the usual fire and brimstone when Ulster’s final two decamp to Dublin.

“You’d have to describe it as feisty; you couldn’t describe it as any other way. It always was like that,” said McEneaney.

“Go back to when we were playing it was same. When we beat them in the ’88 final we had met them in the National League semi-final of ’85 and we had a good few run ins with Tyrone over the years.

“You couldn’t say it’s any different now either. Games over the last 10 or 15 years have been like that. Monaghan lost finals in 2007 and ’10 to Tyrone but in more recent times they have had a far better record against them.

“There was a time there where Monaghan couldn’t get past them at all. But more recently they have held their own against Tyrone.”

Since that ’88 final, Monaghan and Tyrone have met nine times in the championship arena and the Red Hands lead 7-2.

Both of the Oriel wins came in Ulster meaning that it is now 33 years since they have dumped Tyrone out of the championship.

McEneaney is hoping that they can find that statement victory at Croke Park, but he doesn’t feel that past history will be creeping into the minds of Séamus McEnaney’s side.

“I don’t think there is anything in Monaghan players’ minds in relation to that,” he said.

“All the young lads coming through are winners at minor and u-21 level. They’re always there or thereabouts.

“It’s not like 15 years ago when players were coming through not having won anything. There is no inferiority complex.

“I know Tyrone have had the rub in some of the big games, like the All-Ireland semi-final, but this is an Ulster final and overall Monaghan’s record in Ulster finals is pretty good.”

Monaghan qualified for the final courtesy of a madcap 4-17 to 2-21 win over Armagh. ‘Banty’s’ side won the game, lost it and then won it again in a remarkable afternoon of football.

It demonstrated both their strengths and their flaws, and McEneaney expects to see more of the same.

“They have a game-plan in place and a tactical plan in place that has worked over the last couple of games and I don’t think they’ll move too much away from that.

“I think they’ll go with pretty much the same guys that got them through the Galway game, against Fermanagh and against Armagh.

“They have experienced guys like Kieran Hughes and Colin Walshe coming off the bench and that’s phenomenal.

“Monaghan at the minute are in as good of a position in a long while in terms of the panel that they have available to them.

“I think it’s a credit to them that they are able to punch at the weight they are punching at, and punching at it consistently.”

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