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Thursday 21 September 2017

Monaghan players 'still hurting': Murnaghan

Monaghan U21 and senior footballer Mikey Murnaghan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Monaghan U21 and senior footballer Mikey Murnaghan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Mikey Murnaghan is only new to the Monaghan senior set-up but can already tell that the pain of 2016 lingers.

The Farney men, tipped as possible relegation candidates beforehand, have made a solid start to their latest Allianz League Division 1 campaign, claiming three points from four.

"We'd be happy," says Murnaghan. "We went over to Mayo fairly confident. We knew we needed a big scalp.

"Obviously I wasn't involved last year but players are still hurting from that defeat to Longford. Everyone putting Monaghan down and thinking they're finished and that.

"The lads just want to prove that we're still there and we're going to be there. So yeah, it was a bit disappointing only getting a point against Cavan (last Sunday) but ... local rivals, those games take on a life of their own."

Murnaghan was speaking at yesterday's launch of the EirGrid U21 football championship. Monaghan conquered Ulster last spring and this is his third and final year in an age grade that will be replaced by a new U20 championship next year.

"Obviously you want to be known to be the last team ever to lift an Ulster (U21) championship and potentially then an All-Ireland. That's definitely in the backs of our minds," he says.

As for the seniors and their spring ambitions, he cautions: "You can only take it one game at a time. But obviously at the start of the year you'd think that six points would keep you up. It's about getting six points as quickly as possible and then trying to push on."

Scoring just 0-7 against Cavan may have fuelled the stereotype about Monaghan's one-man attack otherwise known as Conor McManus - but Murnaghan begs to differ.

"Conor McCarthy is a class act," the defender points out. "Obviously I've marked him underage, he's played at schools level, he's played at college level with UCD, he put up a big tally the other day against Jordanstown.

"He's a good athlete, a great left foot, he has a good attitude about him."

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