By Shaun Casey
WHAT a difference a week makes. Suddenly, things aren’t looking too bad for Monaghan. They’re not safe of course, not by a long shot and they’ll not feel that comfortable yet, but they’re in with a fighting chance of remaining in the division.
A loss last Sunday to Donegal would have all but sealed their fate but as they tend to do when they’re backs are against the wall, Monaghan came out swinging and came away with an important victory and an important two points.
After the drumming they took in Killarney from against the All-Ireland champions, and their first-round defeat to Armagh, last Sunday’s clash with Donegal felt like a must win.
The victory and the way Monaghan went about it, offers the Farney fans serious hope ahead of this weekend when they welcome table toppers Roscommon to Clones for another tough battle.
The Rossies are the in-form team in the country at the minute and have sewn together three really impressive victories against Tyrone, Galway and most recently Armagh to sit at the top of Division One, with their status more or less secured for next year.
With that in mind, will Davy Burke begin to slow things down and take a step back? Do they really want to be in a league final just weeks before the Connacht Championship, with the possibility of facing Mayo on both occasions?
Well Monaghan supporters will hope that is the case, but the men from the west aren’t really in the position to turn down trophies or big, character-building days in Croke Park. So more than likely, they’ll head to Clones with the intention of leaving with two points.
And that’s exactly what Vinny Corey will want. He doesn’t want anything handed to his team. As a player, he was a warrior and fought his way to the very top, and he’ll expect the same qualities from his side.
Monaghan showed the last day out, as they have done over the last few years, that they’re up for the fight, but it’s no coincidence that their first win of Corey’s tenure came when their main players returned.
On Sunday past, Darren Hughes came in from the start to make his first appearance of the season, Jack McCarron recovered from the hamstring injury picked up against Armagh in round one and Conor McManus (below) appeared from the subs bench in the second half.
They post a huge tally of 1-20, the biggest scoring return from all the Division One games, and you can’t underestimate the importance of home advantage. The comforts of Clones certainly helped last weekend, and they’ll play their part again on Sunday.