By Shaun Casey
DYLAN Byrne was part of the Monaghan u-20 setup last season when they lost to Cavan, who went on to reach the decider, by 11-points in the first round of the Ulster Championship.
That was an evening that the Farney men held home advantage and they’ll once again have the benefits of home comforts when they welcome Armagh to Castleblayney for their preliminary round clash on Wednesday evening.
Things have motoring well for the Monaghan men and there’s plenty of spaces in the starting line-up still up for grabs insists captain Byrne.
“The season’s been good so far and the team has been getting stronger this past few months since and there’s spaces up for grabs in the team for Wednesday evening. There are boys coming from the bench that will be pushing for a starting place so we’re happy enough.”
Joe Gallagher’s men competed in the Philly McGuinness Cup and their league campaign resulted in one defeat and two victories. An opening day loss to Armagh was followed by wins over Westmeath and Louth.
That first game against the Orchard County will have little bearing on Wednesday’s meeting insists the Monaghan skipper.
“I played that first game against Armagh, but it was a game just to get the bearings of our team and get to know a bit about Armagh as well and then look forward to the future championship meeting on Wednesday.
“For ourselves, we know what way we can play and maybe get at them and play our best football and utilise what we have in our own team. Championship’s different than the league.
“Every team is playing at the top level and it just all comes down to the day as well, at least in the league you get a chance to get the next game but in championship you don’t, you just have to perform on the night.
“I was part of the panel last year, we were beat by Cavan in the first round, it just didn’t go our way that evening. That’s the thing about the championship, first round loss and no more games so hopefully this year isn’t the same.”
Byrne, a versatile, hardworking and talented youngster, is vital to the Monaghan panel, was centre half back for the minor team in 2020 when they reached the Ulster final but lost to Derry in the decider by three-points.
This year he’s the captain and the Magheracloone Mitchell’s clubman says it’s a big privileged for him, his family and his club to be given such an honour.
“It’s good to represent your county at any stage, whether that’s u-17s or u-20s and obviously at senior level as well. For me to captain the u-20s, I’m really appreciative of it,” added Byrne.
“For my family too, when they heard I was going to be captain they were really proud of me, they know the dedication I put in and the effort I put in.”