Monaghan hurlers keen to bounce back

By Shaun Casey

MONAGHAN have a chance to bounce back from their recent defeat to Mayo when they host Armagh on Sunday, but the Farney County will still be sore from the last day out.

Arthur Hughes’ side welcomed the Westerners to Castleblayney, the same venue they’ll host Armagh in this weekend, but were left to lick their wounds as Mayo handed out an unforgiving 26-point hammering.

The Connacht men cruised into a comfortable nine-point lead at the half time break but pushed on with an extra four goals after the turnaround, with Adrian McPhillips nabbing a hat-trick of three-pointers while Eoin Delaney and Daniel Huane also hit the net.

Monaghan did keep things reasonably tight throughout the opening period, trailing by just three points with a few minutes left of the first half. But Mayo rattled off 1-5 to 0-3 before the half-time whistle sounded to easily take charge of the contest.

The home side were without one of their top marksmen in Niall Garland, who struck two goals in the Lory Meagher Cup final last year, but the Castleblayney attacker should be back into the starting line-up this weekend and they could do with his firepower.

While Monaghan’s most recent result didn’t look pretty, it’s not all doom and gloom for the reigning Lory Meagher Cup champions. Despite losing to Louth in the first round, they gave a solid account of themselves.

Again, the concession of goals was their main downfall as the Wee County raised four green flags in their three-point win, although Monaghan racked up a decent score that day themselves, hitting 1-20.

Inniskeen hurler and joint-captain Niall Arthur is currently the top scorer in the Monaghan ranks having chalked up 0-18 across their first two games while Thomas Hughes recorded their only goal of the season against Louth.

Monaghan enjoyed an eye-catching league victory over Armagh in round two last year, at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, with the minimum of margin separating the sides once the full-time whistle was blown.

The two counties also clashed in the Division 3A league semi-final in 2023, with Armagh gaining revenge this time around, once again on home turf, before going on to lose to Roscommon in the Division 3A decider.

The Orchard County haven’t made a great start to the season either, having just one point on the board to show for their opening two outings. That point came from a draw with Sligo in their last game while they also suffered a defeat to table-toppers Mayo.

Both sides will see this as the perfect opportunity to kickstart their league charge and climb up the table with a win.

The loser on this occasion however will start worrying about the bottom end of the table and relegation with only two games left to play.

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