Monaghan minors a work-in-progress says Malone

By Niall Gartland

MONAGHAN manager Dermot Malone knows they have issues to iron out ahead of Saturday’s Ulster Championship quarter-final clash away to Armagh.

Malone spearheaded Monaghan minor’s run to last year’s All-Ireland final, but the majority of that starting team have moved on and their current crop are something of a work-in-progress if their group stage results are any indication.

While they did enough to qualify for the quarter-finals by virtue of victories over Fermanagh and Down, they fell short of the required standard in their recent outings against Donegal and Tyrone, conceding six goals in the process. It’s an obvious area for improvement and there’s no arguing from Malone on that point.

He said: “It’s definitely something to look at. We want to concede as few goals and scoreable frees as possible. You don’t necessarily blame your defenders for conceding goals, you look at the source and sometimes it can come from your attacking play.

“If we were able to curtail the goals and scoreable frees, it would go a long way to winning any game so it’s without a doubt an important area to work on.”

Monaghan have faced up to the Orchard County already this year, in their pre-championship minor league campaign.

It didn’t go to plan on that occasion but Malone learnt a lot about Armagh, who are managed by Aidan O’Rourke, another former inter-county footballer, in the process.

“We played them in the minor league and they beat us well enough, there were five or six points between us in the end up.

“Armagh were deserving winners on the day, they’re pretty well-rounded really. They’ve got sharpshooters, a big midfield that can fetch up, they’re defensively very well set up and will take a lot of breaking down.

“They played Derry at the weekend and I know the scoreline might suggest otherwise but Derry really had to grind it out, they only really pulled away in the final ten minutes. Defensively they’re really solid and it could take time for us to break them down.”

Malone is in his second year at the helm and this time around he’s enlisted his former Monaghan teammate Colin Walshe to the set-up. Going one better than last year would be the dream – they lost out in an all-Ulster All-Ireland final to Derry – but that’s a long way down the line and he says it’s important for this year’s team to stand on their own two feet and make their own name for themselves.

“Last year doesn’t count for a lot. Something we’re trying to emphasise is that it’s important for our current lads to write their own story, not to ride on the coattails of last year. It’s more or less a new team and they have to write a new script.”

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