By Shaun Casey
NO one has won the Monaghan Senior Football Championship more times than Castleblayney, who top the roll of honour with 37 titles, but this summer, they’re hoping for intermediate success.
‘Blayney were relegated from the top tier last season but with a league decider to look forward to and the upcoming Intermediate championship, Eamon McEnaney’s men are preparing for a tough campaign.
“It was a very tight league, there wasn’t much between the top teams,” said McEnaney. “We struggled through a number of games and shaded games by a point and lost by a point, so I think it’s very close.
“Having seen the Senior League last year and Intermediate League this year, I would say there’s very little between a lot of the teams outside of maybe the top four in senior.
“Outside of that there’s isn’t much between the bottom six in senior and top six in intermediate. The teams that I think are going to make an impact on the championship are all much of a muchness, there’s no one outstanding team in it.”
The final league table reflects that as only two points separates table toppers Carrickmacross and Clones, who finished in fifth position. Castleblayney ended up in fourth place but beat both Carrickmacross and Clones during the knockout phase to reach the league decider.
“If we’d have won our last game we’d have finished top,” said the former Monaghan boss. “We didn’t and we finished fourth so that tells you how little there was between all the top six or seven teams.”
The championship is sure to be just as tight with ‘’Blayney drawn into a tough group, and they kickstart their campaign with a difficult journey to Doohamlet on Saturday evening.
“Doohamlet are always very hard to beat in Doohamlet and we have Clones at home as well as (who Castleblayney meet in the league final which will take place after the championship) away from home.
“Cremartin have already beaten us in their grounds in the league so that’s certainly not easy. Clones are one of those teams as well that have not had their full deck for most of their games, particularly against us and we’d expect a major challenge from them.
“I think it’s a tough draw for us. We’re going to have to be at our best of the year so far to get points out of those games but at the minute we’re not looking any further than Doohamlet. All we can do is take it one game at a time.
“There’s no point in looking any further because if you lose that first game then it’s a different ball game for the second one and so on so we’ll be trying to put our best foot forward against Doohamlet, as they will against us.
“They’ll be in a similar position knowing that if you win the first game then you’re in a good position going forward. Saturday will all come down to who produces the best form.”