By Shaun Casey
THE Monaghan hurlers are flying high and couldn’t have wished for a better start to their Division 3A league campaign. Two late victories over Fermanagh and Armagh sees them top of the table and in brilliant form ahead of their round three tussle with Louth.
Monaghan manager Arthur Hughes admits that before the league threw in, his side were targeting this Louth game as one they needed to win to stay in the division.
He never expected the dream start the Farney men have produced, but still insists they won’t be taking the foot off the gas following the break in the league.
“You have to keep working, you can’t switch off. A week off isn’t really much of a break, we just have to keep going,” said the Armagh native.
“It’s a game that we would be targeting. Ourselves, Louth and possibly Fermanagh would be the bottom three and whoever wins that mini league stays up and whoever doesn’t goes down. It’s definitely one we’d be targeting; four points is a good start but six would be better.”
Monaghan have shown serious character in their two victories, coming from behind to steal ahead at the end of both games. Hughes has been delighted with the character his team has displayed.
A late goal from goalkeeper Hugh Byrne against Fermanagh, from a free that dropped dangerously into the square, stole victory in round one while against Armagh, away from home, it was super sub Ciaran Guinan who pointed late to win the game.
“Four points out of four from the first two games, anybody that was at the games would see that we won both games in the last couple of minutes but it’s showing that we have a bit of character,” added the Monaghan boss.
“You have to stay in the game to win it in the last few minutes and maybe times before in Monaghan, if a team got a run on us, we let them out the gate, but we have hung in and maybe we got the reward in the end.
“Monaghan would deem Armagh one of the stronger teams in the competition and we know unless you put those teams away, they’re always going to be there.
“Armagh maybe had to go a wee bit more defensive when they went down to 14 men, but we found it hard to get scores at times and then we’d spells where we were on top and getting scores.
“We couldn’t get in front, but I suppose it’s being on top at the end that really matters.
“Monaghan have a monkey on the back with Armagh, they can’t beat them but today was going to be our day if we done things right. We didn’t do everything right but we just did enough to get the win.”