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Tuesday 23 October 2018

Monaghan have the edge on Erne men

Ulster SFC semi-final Fermanagh v Monaghan (Omagh, Tomorrow, 2.0, Live RTÉ)

FORM: Jack McCarron of Monaghan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
FORM: Jack McCarron of Monaghan. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Not the sort of fixture packed with intrigue until both won their Ulster quarter-finals against the head.

Both, largely, are benefiting from the shrewdness of their managers, too.

Malachy O'Rourke has squeezed an extra level out of Monaghan when the natural arc and their age profile would suggest they might fade.

Tyrone won Ulster at their ease last year but there was no doubting which of the teams were better two weeks ago or which team was the most tactically sound, despite the fact that there were only two points in it at the final whistle.

Coming so soon after their victory over Dublin in Croke Park, there are signs of a very late flourishing for this team under their manager.

Vinny Corey and Dessie Mone, for example, are enjoying a brilliant patch of football so late in their careers in a defence that is clearly well drilled.

And Conor McManus, so long their single, brilliant attack lynchpin, has been supplemented by the growing efficiency of Jack McCarron and Fintan Kelly alongside.

Similarly, Fermanagh performed an almost identical dance with Armagh this year but in Enniskillen two weeks ago - when it mattered most - they were convincingly better.

Early on, Rory Gallagher had his wing-forwards play right on the sidelines, allowing Barry Mulrone, Declan McCusker, and Ryan Jones to storm through yawning gaps to score important early points.

Fermanagh defended that day with an aggressive edge but in hindsight, probably conceded too many free and it's an area of the game they must develop further if they're to take another big forwards under Gallagher.

They have the composure and ambition in front of goal to trouble Monaghan here but outside of Dublin, no team looks as sure about themselves just now as the Farney men.

They should win here with a bit to spare.

ODDS: Fermanagh 5/1, Draw 12/1, Monaghan 1/6

VERDICT: Monaghan

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