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Sunday 22 April 2018

Monaghan won't lay down and die again

SFC 4B Qualifier Down v Monaghan (Today 5.0, Live Sky Sports Arena)

Conor McManus. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Conor McManus. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

The common consensus about Croke Park's opening bout of four this weekend is that Monaghan's revenge will be swift, whatever about brutal.

In other words, having suffered the indignity of losing to Down only five weeks ago - when no one saw it coming - they won't be left stewing all winter.

Thus, shaken and stirred, they won't play second fiddle in the intensity stakes. They won't be so careless in their opening shooting salvoes. In short, they will be ready. Then Conor McManus will do the rest ...

The problem with this theory is that you can't be sure with Monaghan right now. A week after their ruthless demolition of Wexford, they flirted with disaster against Carlow who, for all their summer heroics, are of Division 4.

Previously Monaghan have failed to retain provincial heights once they got to HQ. Maybe they'll reverse the trend now, but Jack McCarron's spring brilliance has flatlined while McManus cut a frustrated figure in Carlow.

Still, we suspect Down have already played their Ulster final - in the semi. They were well short of Tyrone's standard and might fall shy again here.

ODDS: Down 10/3 Draw 9/1 Mon 1/3

VERDICT: Monaghan

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