McEnaney keen to extend run
Monaghan's 'Banty' strives to keep ruling the roost against Dubs
SEAMUS McENANEY has never lost to the Dubs in National Football League combat, but he's adamant that past achievements in Parnell Park will have no bearing on Monaghan's latest trip into the Donnycarney den.
The Farney boss mastermined a demolition job on Dublin in 2006 and, two years later, left the capital with another point following a hard-earned draw.
Moreover, the recent NFL record between these counties reveals a strange tale of Monaghan supremacy -- the last three games have all been in Parnell Park and the visitors have won two of them emphatically, by six points in 1998 and seven points in 2006.
McEnaney, however, prefers to highlight the current Division One table which shows Dublin sitting on the summit with a maximum six points whereas his own charges are in the drop zone, on scoring difference, despite last Sunday's uplifting triumph against Tyrone.
"It's fair to say that Dublin are the form team at the moment," he told the Evening Herald. "In fairness to Pat Gilroy, he has transformed this Dublin team. I don't ever remember Dublin being six points from three National Football League games.
"No matter where Monaghan travel in the league, you are boxing at the top of your weight. But this group of boys are very hungry for success, and we will be as difficult to beat as anybody."
As past results reveal, Monaghan should have no historical hang-ups about this weekend's visit but their manager cannot see this being a factor. On one hand, he maintained: "The venue is not a big issue. We have seven or eight guys who didn't play in Parnell Park two years ago, or four years ago."
Yet, by way of slightly contradictory statement, he added: "I know that this is going to be a very difficult task for us, because of the high that Dublin are on and the venue -- Dublin love playing in Parnell Park and are very, very difficult to beat there."
A more practical concern for the man they call 'Banty' centres on the contrasting performances of the two defences. Statistically, Dublin have the best defensive record in the top flight, conceding just 2-25 in three games. Monaghan have the worst, with a porous 4-49 in the 'scores against' column.
"Obviously, we are facing into a battle of trying to get scores on the board. They (Dublin) are playing quite a defensive game -- it's up to me to deal with that over the new few days, to come up with a concept for us to get scores," the manager outlined.
"We still wouldn't be happy with the leakage -- we leaked 16 points last Sunday, and that will lose you most games. At least it's better than the 3-13 (against Cork) and 1-20 (against Galway) in the previous games, so we are going in the right direction."
In fairness to Monaghan, another perusal of the NFL stats shows that their forwards have actually chalked up tallies big enough to win most games at this time of year. They scored 3-12 at home to Cork -- and lost. Then 1-14 against Galway -- only to lose by six -- whereas the same tally proved sufficient against Tyrone. Their running total is 5-40, well ahead of Dublin's 3-32.
"The forwards are certainly going well. We have been criticised in the past for being too defensive and not having enough scoring forwards outside one or two players. It's fair to say we have dealt with that, and now we are being criticised for leaking too much ... it's about striking a balance," McEnaney surmised.
Scalping Tyrone in Inniskeen was clearly good for morale, even though the Monaghan boss felt they had been playing quite well beforehand without getting the results to match. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect to date, however, has been the blooding of eight NFL debutants over those opening three rounds.
On Saturday night (throw-in 7.30) Banty's young guns will face off against a host of Sky Blue rookies.
"There isn't a player in the country who wouldn't be looking forward to playing the Dubs," their manager declared, before insisting there will be no carry-over from the counties' last NFL collision, a controversial stalemate that led to a lengthy ban for Dublin backroom member Ray Boyne following an incident involving Tommy Freeman.
"We put those things long behind us," he stressed. "We have played Dublin three or four times since then; we have played them more than any other team in the country, challenge games and opening pitches. The thing was sorted out quite rapidly at the time, between myself and Pillar (Paul Caffrey) and the two people there, and it's long under the bridge."