Monaghan expecting big test from Mourne ladies

By Shaun Casey

MAEVE Monaghan was in attendance last season when Down claimed the All-Ireland Junior title at Croke Park and this weekend she leads the Farney ladies into battle against the girls in red and black.

Having made the step up to Intermediate level this season, Down are hoping to follow up on that Junior success, but Darren Greenan’s side are keen to halt their progress.

Last year gave the Monaghan captain an insight into what her side will face on Sunday, and she knows that they are in for a real battle. “I actually watched the Junior All-Ireland last year and I remember thinking, that they had a really good set-up,” said Monaghan.

“They’re a fantastic team. They won that All-Ireland and what we’re forcusing on now is how to get the better of them.. We want to see how we can build and if can get over that hurdle because they are definitely a very strong team.”

Playing on their home ground of Clones will be a thrilling experience says Monaghan, and a “massive milestone” for a lot of the younger players on the panel.

“There’s a good buzz and the atmosphere’s great, we’re all raring to go and of course, it being played in Clones which a massive milestone for some players who’ve never played there before.

“There’s great pride associated with Clones because it’s the home of Ulster football.

“We’ve a few girls that are from Clones and have never played there, and they’re absolutely delighted. I went to school in Clones and there’s a huge element of pride and excitement playing there.

“We’re a young team but there are a lot of girls that have already played in school All-Irelands and Ulsters, and they’ve been very successful. However, it’s not the same with the county, and it’s definitely a new thing for a lot of us.

“To manage that, we’re trying to coach that experience into girls. We’re seeinge how girls are getting on and managing the pressure and the talk and the media.

“The older girls do look after the younger girls a lot and it’s a good close-knit set-up.”

Monaghan enjoyed an impressive win over Tyrone in the Ulster semi-final in a game where the Red Hands were heavily tipped to not only come through but to land the provincial crown.

That victory has provided Monaghan will lots of confidence ahead of the Ulster final. “We were raring to go against Tyrone, they gave us a good hiding in the league, and they were a very strong set-up, and we knew what to expect,” added Monaghan.

“We were prepared solely on Tyrone for so long and getting over that hurdle was massive. It was a thrill but we’re on a building block here and this is just game one. The focus is on Down, we’ve moved on from Tyrone because you can get lost maybe in that win and maybe forget about the Ulster final altogether.”

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