herald

Monday 25 June 2018

Banty: Dublin are capable of 'hosing down' every team in the country

Former Monaghan boss Séamus McEnaney is wary of the damage Dublin could inflict on his native county
Former Monaghan boss Séamus McEnaney is wary of the damage Dublin could inflict on his native county

Come what may in Croke Park and elsewhere this Sunday, Monaghan will finish third in this year's Allianz Football League Division 1 table.

Ongoing top-flight survival is not alone guaranteed but achieved with plenty to spare.

So it doesn't matter what happens against the Dubs?

Séamus McEnaney begs to differ. The trouble, according to former boss 'Banty', is that Dublin have the capacity to "hose down" every team, their closest rivals included.

And that's the last thing Monaghan need as they prepare for their most pivotal game of 2018, an Ulster SFC quarter-final trek to face Tyrone in Omagh on May 20.

Dublin secured their place in the league decider courtesy of last Sunday's Salthill stalemate with fellow finalists Galway. It was a game they almost won having trailed for over an hour, all the way into injury-time.

If Dublin had lost, Monaghan would be coming to Croker in the knowledge that a rare ambush of the All-Ireland champions would see them leapfrog their rivals and reach the final.

"It's an awful pity Galway didn't beat Dublin by a point, and leave this a humdinger," McEnaney reflected.

The former Farney chief has high praise for how Malachy O'Rourke has developed his panel through the league, using 31 players along the way.

Risk

But such a policy carries real risk when it comes to facing Dublin at HQ, in your last game before meeting Tyrone in May.

"Dublin are a team that if you aren't on your guard, they could leave you very sore going back down the road," he warned.

"We're after taking quite a severe beating from Galway (11 days ago), albeit with a man sent off. But you don't want to finish with another bad beating against Dublin going into the championship.

"It's unfortunate because he (O'Rourke) has developed the panel unbelievably this year. It's a dead-rubber game in one sense of the word; but in the other sense of the word it's not.

"You always want to win games in Croke Park. You always want to pit yourself against the best team in the country - Dublin.

"But you have to be very careful, because they are the one team that are capable of hosing down every team in the country. Malachy can't afford to let that happen this weekend."

All of which points towards less line-up experimentation this Sunday.

Develop

"Yes, he wants to develop the panel; but you will see, I'd say, Monaghan pick a very strong team. He might not name them during the week, but you'll see him pick a very strong team," McEnaney predicted.

"To be fair to Malachy, he hasn't shown his hand fully to Tyrone. He has mixed up his whole team. They'd a great league campaign to comfortably stay up."

Next spring, Monaghan will be playing their fifth consecutive year in Division 1. That will make it seven years out of ten (2010-19) in the top-flight.

For a county languishing near the foot of the population table, it's an eye-catching stat.

"Three of the games they won, they won them by a point," McEnaney pointed out. "Beat Kerry, Kildare, Tyrone by a point. So they're small margins, but they're coming out on the right side of the small margins.

"Monaghan, with their population, are a credit. I think everyone would accept that. But they don't want to hear that. Monaghan want to be in the Super-8s.

"The reality is it's a huge championship match against Tyrone, because for the losers of that game it's a long way to the Super-8s from Omagh … I think whoever wins it 100 per cent will be in the Super-8s."

No wonder that he views Tyrone/Monaghan right up there with Mayo/Galway in terms of early-summer significance.

And that's why Monaghan can't afford to suffer any psychological damage right now.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News