A different final day for Monaghan

By Shaun Casey

TRAVELLING to Clones on Sunday afternoon, Monaghan fans may let their minds drift to what might have been having witnessed some last-day drama in recent seasons.

Unfortunately for the Farney County, it’s not to be this year and Sunday will be their final game in the top tier until at least 2026.

Vinny Corey’s men put in a brave battle in the hope of producing another great escape, but their luck eventually ran out with their fate confirmed by rivals Tyrone.

The focus may have already flipped towards championship and with nothing to play for this weekend, Monaghan will have eyes on that preliminary round clash with near neighbours Cavan.

Mayo’s visit gives Monaghan the opportunity to get some more minutes into the legs of Conor McManus, Darren Hughes and anyone else who needs it.

Mayo can no longer reach the Division One league final following their defeat to table-toppers Derry last weekend, so their attention will also have turned towards Connacht.

While Monaghan maybe weren’t at full strength last weekend against the Red Hands, they did field an extremely strong team. Rory Beggan was the obvious omission, with the plan to replace him ongoing.

Stephen O’Hanlon, the main man when they upset the odds against Dublin in the first round, hasn’t featured in the last few games but most of the golden oldies have made their long-awaited return.

Only Jack McCarron scored more than McManus last week, with the pair hitting 1-4 and 0-6 respectively, while Hughes is back in the familiar surroundings of the midfield.

All-Star Conor McCarthy was back in the starting team while Karl O’Connell, who started against Galway in round five of the league, was introduced at half time.

While the league didn’t pan out how Monaghan would have wished, they still have a chance to end the campaign on a high and build some momentum before championship comes calling in three weeks’ time.

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