Hughes happy with Monaghan mentality

By Shaun Casey

EVERY manager wants to instil a winning mentality into their team and Monaghan now have then says their manager Arthur Hughes, but it’s about pushing on now and aiming for bigger and better in 2024.

Monaghan claimed their first ever All-Ireland title last season, defeating Lancashire in the Lory Meagher Cup final by two-points and the confidence and momentum of that victory should see them excited by the new year.

Not only that, but a large portion of their squad are still beaming from helping Castleblayney win the Ulster Junior Club Championship title back in November, and they have recently joined up with the county team once again.

“That’s what you want to ingrain into a team is that winning mentality and we have it now, the boys know now that they can lift trophies,” said Hughes, a former inter-county hurler with both Monaghan and Armagh.

“But when you’re from a county like Monaghan, one of the so-called lesser counties, you have to keep building and building, and the next step is always going to be bigger, but you have to embrace the challenge, you can’t hide away from it.”

Preparations for the upcoming Division 3A National League campaign have been a bit delayed because of Castleblayney’s provincial success but Hughes isn’t too concerned about the setback.

“We’re maybe a wee bit late getting back with ‘Blayney going well in the Ulster Junior, so it left us that we were playing without 10 or 12 men, but we have them back now so we’re starting to get a wee bit of work done now.

“We’re back a wee bit from where we normally would be, last year and the year before, but we’ll get it up, we’ll be alright,” added Hughes.

Monaghan burst out of the traps in the league last season, beating Fermanagh, Armagh and Louth in the opening three fixtures and are once again targeting a good start, but face a big challenge this weekend against the Wee County.

“Last year worked well for us because we got our first three wins in our first three games. Uu and Louth, there’s never more than a puck of a ball between us and then we have Mayo in the second game and Armagh in the third.

“It’s going to be a big ask. One, two or four points would be great, it would be lovely to get six and you have to play every game and the best team at the end of it all will win it and whoever wins the least will get relegated.

“With five games, you can’t afford to have a bad run at it because if you lose two or three on the bounce then you’re not going to qualify but if you can win maybe three in a row then there’s a good chance you could get to a league semi-final at least.

“It’s a league campaign but it’s a sprint, it’s not a marathon. It’s over in a blink so you need to be prepared.”

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