By Shaun Casey
MONAGHAN’S quest to secure a tenth straight season in the topflight could well come down to Sunday’s showdown with Ulster rivals Tyrone. In any other round, Vinny Corey’s men would have been confident of turning the Red Hands over, but following their recent win over All-Ireland champions Kerry, Tyrone travel to Clones full of confidence.
Monaghan can have plenty of faith in themselves as well, despite defeat to last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists Galway in round five. Clones has proven a bear-pit for opposition teams this year and that’s the way Corey will want to keep it.
Seasoned warriors like Rory Beggan, Darren Hughes and Conor McManus continue to spearhead their challenge, while their side is also spinkled with several exciting newer prospects in Stephen O’Hanlon and Michael Bannigan.
After back-to-back defeats to Armagh (in Castleblayney) and Kerry, Monaghan looked to have turned their season around with consecutive wins over Donegal, the only team with less points than Monaghan, and Roscommon, who hadn’t lost up to that point.
So they’re back in the comforts of St Tiernach’s Park this weekend and their Division One status is on the line, as is Tyrone’s. A win for either side here would more or less guarantee their place in the division heading into the last day.
Not only would the winner be above the bottom two, even if Donegal spring a surprise and see off Mayo, but they would also have the head-to-head advantage over the bottom two. Mathematically, the winner could still get caught, but it would ease some fears.
If recent history is anything to go by then this will go down to the wire. The two teams have drawn in their last two league meetings, both in Omagh, while Tyrone shaded the 2021 Ulster Final by one point.
There have been no goals scored in the last three meetings between these teams, and that stat demonstrates just how tense and tight these games are.