By Shaun Casey
SEMI-FINALS are for winning and at St Tiernach’s Park this Sunday, four teams are 60 minutes away from securing their spot in the Monaghan SFC final.
Scotstown are part of the furniture on county final day at this stage, having featured in the last ten, while Clontibret have collected the Mick Duffy Cup 17 times.
Six-time winners Inniskeen are battling their way back to the big time having not tasted championship success since 1948.
For Corduff, it’s new ground and with each passing game, last year’s Ulster Intermediate finalists are making history. Seamus McEnaney’s men topped their group with two wins and two draws earning them an automatic spot in the semi-finals.
They head into the final four with an unbeaten record, but Sunday’s showdown with Scotstown (2pm) will provide the acid test.
Fergal Hanratty has been scoring freely for Corduff while the likes of Cillian Marron, Jordan McGarrell and the McEnaney clan are all important players.
Having lost their crown to Ballybay last season, Scotstown, seven-time winners in the past decade, will be intent on at least reaching the final once again to right the wrongs of 2023.
Last Sunday was the first taste of knockout championship football for David McCague’s side and they passed with flying colours, defeating Aughnamullen 2-14 to 1-8.
A first-half penalty from sharpshooter Jack McCarron fired An Bhoth into the driving seat as they led by double scores at the break.
Kieran Hughes, who entered the fray from the bench having recovered from an injury, raised a second green flag after the turnaround while older brother Darren was outstanding at centerfield.
Corduff’s battling spirit and unwavering belief in themselves will guarantee a tough battle, but Scotstown look to have too much quality and they should qualify for the final.
On the other side of the draw, Inniskeen face off against Clontibret (3.45pm) and the sides last clashed just four weeks ago in the third round of the round-robin series – a game won by the Grattans.
Inniskeen, managed by John McEntee who won a Monaghan title with Clontibret in 2019, edged that encounter with three points the difference in the end.
That saw McEntee’s men top the group and progress straight to the last four while the O’Neill’s club had to take the long way around with a quarter-final clash against Latton.
A second-half Ryan McGuigan goal was the decisive score for Mick O’Dowd’s team as they ran out 1-9 to 0-9 winners.
Conor McManus remains the go-to scorer in the attack while Killian Lavelle is a powerful presence around the middle of the field and Conor Boyle is another county teammate.
Clontibret have plenty of experience as well with Dessie Mone and current Monaghan manager Vinny Corey still in their ranks.
The likes of Andrew Woods, Donal Meegan and Sean Jones will lead the way up front for Inniskeen, who are also in the league final against Latton which will be played after the championship.
Inniskeen will perhaps begin the game as slight favourites, but it should go right down to the wire in Clones.