Confidence not an issue for Corey’s side as Kerry visit

By Shaun Casey

THIS time last week a lot of people around the country already had Monaghan written off as relegation fodder at the bottom of the Division One league table, but what a difference one performance and one result can make.

In truth, we really should be disappointed in ourselves that we slipped into that way of thinking again. When will we learn? Monaghan are a consistent topflight side and their here to stay for the long haul.

Not many teams have gotten the better of Dublin quite as often as Monaghan have and an away day trip to Croke Park against the All-Ireland champions, without a number of key players, spelled danger for Vinny Corey.

Well, that’s how it looked on the outside. On the inside, there’s a battling spirit and a never say die attitude ingrained in ever single Monaghan player. The challenge this week now is to back it up.

Surely things can only get easier in round two you may ask. Well, that depends how you define easy. In fact, Monaghan face two massive tests in their next two fixtures against Kerry this week and then Derry in round three.

But it’s all about the Kingdom this week and Jack O’Connor’s side are coming to Clones in search of their first points of the season. Kerry lost out to the aforementioned Derry at Austin Stack Park just a few hours before Monaghan secured their opening day win.

It was a Kerry team that were minus the Clifford brothers, David and Paudie, along with Paul Geaney and Tadgh Morley, but Monaghan will shed no tears for the men in green and gold. They know a thing or two about missing key men.

When the ball is thrown in on Sunday afternoon, the Farney men are likely to be without Rory Beggan, Conor McCarthy, Conor McManus and Darren Hughes once again, unless one of them makes a surprise appearance, while Conor Boyle and Kieran Hughes are gone.

Last weekend there were plenty of players raising their hands to lead the Monaghan line, namely the likes of Killian Lavelle, Stephen O’Hanlon and Michael Bannigan along with goalkeeper Darren McDonnell.

Substitute Ciaran McNulty impressed as well, hitting 1-1 off the bench, while the tried and trusted talent of Jack McCarron came to their fore once again as he top scored for Corey’s side with 1-2.

There’s certainly enough ability in the Monaghan ranks to trouble Kerry this weekend and pick up another couple of unlikely points, although their recent luck against their southern opponents doesn’t make for pretty reading.

Kerry beat them by 11 points last year, eight points the year before and three points in 2020. In fact, Monaghan haven’t tasted a league triumph over the Kingdom since 2017, so the challenge this weekend is to halt the upper hand Kerry have held in that time.

Confidence and belief certainly won’t be lacking in that Monaghan changing room and there will be a buzz of invincibility this week at training. But come Sunday, last week’s result will count for nothing, and they’ll have to do it all over again.

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