By Kieran Lynch
ON Saturday, Clontibret host Inniskeen in a top of the table clash in Group Two of the Monaghan Senior Football Championship, with the potential to jump above them and move into first place.
However, because that game throws in at 6pm, with Donaghmoyne facing Scotstown at 3pm, Clontibret manager Mick O’Dowd believes some of the sting could be taken out of the game.
Inniskeen are already guaranteed at least a quarter-final place, and if Scotstown avoid defeat they will help Clontibret into the knockout rounds as well, before the action gets underway that evening.
Despite that, whoever gets top spot in the group will get a bye and head straight into the semi-finals, which does add incentive to the game.
“Of course, you want to win every game in the championship because momentum is key,” said O’Dowd.
“The game beforehand will determine how we approach our game. Top spot doesn’t guarantee you anything; we played Ballybay last year in the round-robin and beat them, but they came back around and beat us in the semi-final.
“The way things are going, I’d expect Inniskeen to top the group and if they beat us, they definitely will, and that will allow them to get a few weeks’ break.
“For us, we’re just trying to manage players through to the knockout stages.”
Conor McManus has continued to be the main man for Clontibret to this point in the championship, but he is supported by a strong cast which includes Dessie Mone, Conor Boyle, Killian Lavelle and Darragh Hughes.
Consequently, they have put themselves in the mix for top spot with two wins from two, but O’Dowd believes they have work to do yet.
“We defeated Magheracloone, who have proven to be the weakest team and they’re gone after three games. In fairness, they have had some bad injuries” he said.
“And against Donaghmoyne, we really got out of jail with a last-minute penalty, which Conor McManus stood up and put away. But I suppose we kept fighting to the end in that game with 14 men, which is a good sign.
“We were glad to get the victory because Donaghmoyne are a very tough team.”
Form indicates that they will have it tough this weekend if they are to continue their winning run, and O’Dowd was full of praise for their upcoming opponents.
“Inniskeen are really the form team in the championship by a long way,” he said.
“They beat Scotstown by two and probably should have beat them by more. I know John (McEntee) very well, having worked with him at Clontibret in 2019, so he knows how to win a Monaghan Championship.
“They have the Louth midfielder Tommy Durnin in, and I went to watch them there, and he is a brilliant player. They look like they’re going places.”