Monaghan prepped for “dogfight” finale

By Shaun Casey

ARTHUR Hughes paints a pretty simple picture when assessing Monaghan’s chances of staying in Division 3A with two games against Sligo and Cavan, both away from home, remaining.

Win both, and they’ll make the league semi-finals. Win one and Monaghan will secure their status. Lose both and their fate will be sealed and it’s Division 3B next season for the Farney men. So, two points from their last two games are the goal and that all starts with Sligo this weekend.

“We’re away to Sligo and away to Cavan,” said Hughes, who guided Monaghan to Lory Meagher Cup glory last season.

“Cavan are maybe a wee bit of a surprise package for some people, but they’ve played well in all their games, and they’ve picked up two points along the way as well.

“These last two games, it’s going to really come down to the wire. I suppose with the small number of teams, if you’re not in the promotion race then you’re facing a relegation dogfight.

“We happen to be in that dogfight at the minute but if we can pick up some points in the next two games then we should be okay.”

Mayo and Sligo lead the way in Division 3A, and Hughes said it’s a very tricky division.

“The two Connacht teams are ahead at the minute and rightly so. With Sligo being a Christy Ring team and the rest of us in the Nickey Rackard, that’s no surprise.

“The rest of us are really fighting for one position and we’re maybe not in the position we wanted to be but that’s where we are.

“Going into this game this weekend, we have a bit of a depleted squad with injuries. It would have been an uphill task with a full squad but without a
few players then it’s going to be harder.

“Our two joint-captains Colin Merrick and Niall Arthur, their muscle injuries haven’t cleared up yet and Conal McHugh is possibly away. Thomas Hughes maybe will have a conflict with the u-20 football being on the same day.

“We could be down those few numbers, but it’ll be a chance for other people to shine. We’d need to have our full deck to be completely competitive against them.”

Monaghan only have two points on the board with a round three victory over neighbours Armagh seeing them get off the mark following two back-to-back defeats against league leaders Mayo and Louth.

“We knew we were going to make a slow start to the league because we had no work don. When we had the gap week after the Mayo game, it gave us a chance to get some training in because the Mayo performance wasn’t up to scratch.

“We got a few players back and we played well against Armagh in fairness and maybe could have won by more.

“It’ll be an uphill task against Sligo to try and back it up, but we have two games left.”

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