Monaghan aiming to overcome familiar foe

By Shaun Casey

WHETHER it be a meaningless challenge game at the start of the season or a hell for leather championship match, Cavan and Monaghan usually bring the best out in each other. A win in a derby is nothing to be sniffed at.

Cavan upset the odds last season in the second round of the Lory Meagher Cup, seeing off their Ulster rivals by three points in Kingspan Breffni Park and it’s back to the scene of the crime for the Farney men this weekend.

This time around, a Division 3A semi-final spot is up for grabs with the winner of this encounter likely to capture the third place in the table, behind league leaders Sligo and Mayo.

“It’s huge for both teams,” said Monaghan sharpshooter Niall Garland, who helped his side win the Lory Meagher Cup last year despite that second-round defeat to Cavan.

“Cavan are probably the story of the league campaign and I’m sure people at the start wouldn’t have thought they’d do so well but we played them in a challenge game at the start of the year and they have some serious operators.

“In my view, it’s no surprise that they’re doing so well. They have a serious record against us, especially in Breffni, and we’ve played each other several times over the last few years.

“Each time whether it’s a challenge or competitive championship games, it’s always very, very close. We probably bring the best out in each other and most of the games are decided by who wants it more.

“To be fair to Cavan, as much as we wouldn’t like to admit it, they’ve won that battle the last few times in competitive fixtures and fair play to them but we’re going rightly as well and we’re confident of what we’re doing.

“We have a few injuries to key players which can hinder a team, but we’ve had boys that have stepped in and stepped up massively so from a panel perspective, it’s brilliant knowing we have boys that have county experience under their belts.”

Cavan currently sit on four points following wins over Louth and Armagh but a victory here for Monaghan would see them tie on four points with Cavan, although they’d gain the upper hand on head-to-head.

A Louth win over Armagh could complicate things, as they’d also finish on four, but even if Monaghan miss out, they’re happy with how they have performed.

“We feel that there’s some scorelines and maybe the league table doesn’t reflect how well we’ve been playing.

“We’ve put in some good performances and we’re just coming up short but that’s what the National League is about, you want to play as well as you can and although we’re sitting second from bottom at the minute, we’re not overly too concerned.

“We know we’re doing a lot of good things, but we just need to turn those good things into victories. Cavan are doing that more regularly than us, so they’ll definitely be fancying their chances, especially on home ground, to turn us over.”

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