Monaghan ladies are a work in progress

By Niall Gartland

Lidl National Ladies Football

League Division Two

Monaghan v Clare

Saturday, Clones, 4pm

ALL the signs are good, but Monaghan boss Ciaran Murphy says it’ll be a few games before they know where they really stand as they aim to get back into Division One at the first time of asking.

The Farney Ladies were dumped out of the top flight for the first time in more than two decades last season, but they’ve left no stone unturned their efforts to steady the ship under their new manager.

They trounced Wexford by 29 points at the weekend, but Murphy says it would be foolish to read anything into that particular result because their opponents haven’t done much training.

Wexford have only had six training sessions and they’re very much a new team. We wouldn’t read much into our victory, there’ll be tougher tests ahead.

We played well but there’ll be tougher tests waiting for us in the coming weeks. Wexford are similar to ourselves last year – we suffered a couple of similarly heavy defeats and it’s not easy to deal with.”

Murphy was part of Niall Treanor’s backroom team last year and after the Truagh man stepped down at the end of the season, Murphy was appointed manager.

Murphy, a native of the Sean McDermott’s club, is assisted by Adam Treanor and Noel Rice, and he says they’ve left nothing to chance over the winter period.

We started rather late in the day last season as a number of girls had made other plans.

This time around we’ve been going since November, and we’ve a few of the girls back and there’s other young players who were part of our minor team who are coming through as well.

There’s a new vibe around the place. We’re in a good place but we haven’t had an actual challenge yet so it’s hard to know where we’re actually at.”

A lot of the best players in the county have committed for the year ahead, including Donaghmoyne duo Cora and Rosemary Courtney, Ellen McCarron, and the McAnespies and the McNally sisters.

Murphy says that Monaghan weren’t as bad as some thought last year, and they still held onto their senior championship status, but he accepts that it’ll take some time for things to settle again.

We just want to get competitive again. In saying that, our squad was diminished last year but we still had some good performances, drawing against Mayo and losing to two points to Galway in the All-Ireland, losing by Tipperary by a point.

We haven’t sat down and said we want to do this or that and after three or four games we’ll have a better idea of where we’re at.”

Monaghan’s next game is against Clare this weekend. The Banner County lost to Armagh by 5-8 to 1-8 in their opening day match but Murphy says that result doesn’t mean much.

That will definitely be more of a challenge. They were beaten by four goals in Armagh but that can happen in ladies football. Two of their goals came when two Clare players were sin binned so I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

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