Wednesday 19 December 2018

Classic clash in Clones is on the cards

Dublin's Philly McMahon in action
Dublin's Philly McMahon in action

After last Saturday night's events in Croke Park and the following days Ulster meeting in Ballyshannon, next Sunday's clash between Monaghan and Dublin in Clones (2.0) will enjoy added significance with both teams still needing a positive result to book a place in the Allianz National Football League Division 1 final.

Of course, the Dubs require just a point to confirm their berth but anything less that that will mean a final spot for Malachy O'Rourke's men.

One man with a keen interest in both teams is Monaghan native and Kilmacud Crokes senior football manager Gabriel Bannigan, who feels that the match will attract massive interest in Farney country.

"Having an opportunity to come up against a team that is unbeaten for 35 games is a massive incentive for Monaghan and there should be a huge crowd in Clones on Sunday.

"The fact that both teams have something to play for only adds to the occasion and it is exactly the sort of test that both managers will appreciate having as we near closer to the championship.

"Teams at this stage need games that mean something and the importance of Conor McManus' late penalty against Donegal shouldn't be underestimated as it gives Monaghan something to play for.

"I have been impressed with what I have seen from Monaghan this year as like Dublin, they have been without a lot of experience in the early stages of the league.

"One of the big problems that they have had in previous years is that they have lacked pace when it came to playing in Croke Park but that area has been addressed and they have managed a positive league despite being without some of the more established players," he said.


As impressive as Monaghan have been, Bannigan is full of admiration for what Dublin have achieved in recent years and the unbeaten record that goes back over two years is testimony to the strength in depth that they enjoy in the modern era.

"I think to have an unbeaten run that goes back that far is a massive achievement in modern football, especially when you consider how competitive league and championships have become.

"To put up a scoreline like they did on Saturday is hugely impressive and it was the way that they played that made it all the more eye-catching.

"They blooded a few players early on and slowly but surely you have class acts like Paul Flynn and Cian O'Sullivan back in the line-up. That highlights the talent in their panel and that strength in depth sets them apart from others," he added.

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