By Shaun Casey
GETTING points on the board as quickly as possible is the key to securing your Division One status, suggests Monaghan’s roaming half-back Karl O’Connell.
Vinny Corey’s side host Armagh on Saturday evening before travelling to Killarney to take on All-Ireland champions Kerry in round two, a difficult start for any team.
“Getting points on the board is obviously key but getting as many points on the board before that first break is a big boost,” said the 2018 All-Star. “We have Armagh, they got on very well at the end of the All-Ireland stages (last year) after a good start in the league.
“They’ll be looking for another boost, they’ll know what worked well for them last year in regard to planning out the season and again they’ll be aiming for a big start so it’ll be up to us to make sure we can match that.
“Then another tough one going down to Kerry the week after, it’s a tricky start but this is Division One, this is what you’re going to face. You have to relish these opportunities because you could just as well not be in these situations. I know I’m looking forward to it and I’d be hoping the team are looking forward to it as well.”
Monaghan enter their ninth straight season competing at the top tier and are joined by not only Armagh, but by fellow Ulster opponents Tyrone and Donegal. The thrill of competing at the top level is still very much evident inside the Farney changing room, and O’Connell is excited about another big season.
“A factor of Division One football, I’m not being disrespectful to Ulster football, it has changed in the last two or three years, it’s been more attacking,” added the Tyholland clubman.
“But for a number of years there it was very defensive, and I suppose the best thing about Division One at that time was that you were meeting teams outside of Ulster who played free-flowing football.
“They were very direct and that does help you as well, it certainly helps you at the end of the year because you have the likes of Kerry, Dublin, Mayo and even Galway there last year, teams that are very direct and free flowing.
“The last number of years, Division One has been a derby for every team and obviously with four Ulster teams in it, it’s great for Ulster and we’re all looking forward to it.”