herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Monaghan can hold on to title

IN a week that has seen some pundits suggesting that the time has come for Tyrone manager Mickey Harte to part company with the county's senior footballers, the meeting of Monaghan and Donegal is a reminder of who the current powerbrokers of the Province are.

Contesting their fourth Ulster final in as many years, Jim McGuinness' men have shown remarkable consistency in what is by far the most demanding Provincial championship, although their defeat to the Farney men last year robbed them of a historical three in a row, and set in place the beginning of the end as their reign as All-Ireland champions.

There have been encouraging signs en route to this years final, where the scoring contributions of some of their younger stars, such as Leo McLoone (2-3), Odhran MacNiallais (0-4) and Darach O'Connor (1-3), has helped to lift the burden from the shoulders of Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden.

Under the tutelage of Malachy O'Rourke however, Monaghan have built on their success of twelve months ago, beating Donegal in the Division 2 League final earlier this year, and following up that success by reaching consecutive Ulster finals for the first time since the early 1940's.

Their 25-five-year wait for provincial glory and the Cavanagh tackle without doubt hindered progression last summer, but with the monkey off their back, I believe they have the game-plan to not only secure another Ulster title, but to offer a stern test for any challenger in an All-Ireland quarter-final.

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