By Shaun Casey
THE Monaghan club league scene enters it’s knockout phase next week and things are beginning to really hot up at both ends of the senior table.
Some of the traditional big hitters of Monaghan club football are hovering around the bottom end of the senior division and are battling to avoid relegation.
Former championship kingpins Scotstown, who lost their crown to Ballybay in last season’s showpiece, finished bottom of the table after nine games.
David McCague’s side, and last year’s league champions, gathered six points from their nine outings but will be boosted by the return of their county contingent.
Jack McCarron will be a huge addition to the Scotstown attack for the remainder of the year while Conor McCarthy was in All-Star form for Monaghan as they ended up in the All-Ireland semi-finals.
Scotstown are away to Magheracloone next Tuesday evening and will be favourites to come out of that encounter with a win and save their bacon.
Magheracloone made the climb to senior football last season, despite losing both the Intermediate Championship and Intermediate League finals to near neighbours Corduff, so they’ll be determined to secure their status.
The two teams will get to know each other fairly well over the next few weeks as they’ve also been drawn in the same championship group and clash in round three, although Scotstown will have home advantage that evening.
Truagh finished just one point above Scotstown, and they are set to come up against Aughnamullen in their relegation play-off.
Like Scotstown and Magheracloone on the other side, Truagh and Aughnamullen are set to collide in round three of the championship so next Tuesday’s clash may be a dress rehearsal for another meeting down the line.
Donaghmoyne finished as the league leaders losing just two of their nine games, which gives them entrance to the league semi-finals while Inniskeen, who finished in second place, are also guaranteed a place in the last four.
Clontibret take on Corduff on Tuesday evening in the quarter-final, with Donaghmoyne awaiting the winners. On the other side, it’s current county champions Ballybay and Latton who will battle it out to face John McEntee’s Inniskeen in the semi-final.
At intermediate level, Carrickmacross are aiming for a quick return to senior football, and they finished top of the league. They now await the winners of Castleblayney, who were relegated alongside Carrickmacross last year, and Clones.
On the other side of the draw, Doohamlet will take on the winners of Cremartin and Emyvale in the last four, while at the bottom of the table, Killanny meet Sean McDermott’s while Toome clash with Monaghan Harps as they all try to avoid relegation.
Junior table-toppers Drumhowan have yet to taste defeat this season and they’ll meet either Tyholland or Eire Óg in the league semi-final. Blackhill finished second in the table, and they’ll advance to the final if they overcome the winners of Aghabog and Oram.