Musing about Monaghan

Our National League Division One campaign of 2024 concludes on Sunday at St Tiernach’s Park in Clones. Monaghan, already relegated, provide the opposition for a game that throws in at 1.45pm. Fermanagh’s Niall Cullen is the ref and, while the match won’t be shown live on TV, Midwest will have live radio commentary on it.

We’ve had some right old battles in the League against the Farneymen down the years. Both of us have tended to view this fixture as an ideal opportunity to grab much-needed League points and so the exchanges between us have rarely been less than full-throated.

Sunday is, however, set to be an exception. Monaghan’s defeat to Tyrone last weekend in the quagmire that was Healy Park ended their decade-long sojourn in the top tier, while our loss to Derry put paid to any hopes we might have had – stop sniggering! – of making the Division One decider for a third successive season.

This means that neither of us have anything tangible to play for when we meet on Sunday. We’re already thinking ahead to the New York game at the start of April and, more to the point, the Connacht semi-final game against Roscommon two weeks after that (assuming, of course, that the Exiles don’t pull off a shock-of-the-century win over us at Gaelic Park).

Monaghan, meanwhile, will be planning for their Ulster opener, which is a preliminary round meeting at Clones against Cavan, on the same day we play in New York. They too are likely to be looking beyond their first provincial hurdle (admittedly always a dangerous thing to do in Ulster) and giving thought to a possible away meeting with Tyrone in the Ulster quarter-final, which takes place the same weekend we should be butting heads with the Rossies in Dr Hyde Park.

Because of this we’re both likely to use our meeting on Sunday as an opportunity to give game time to those players who need it most. I think, for example, that we could well go with an entirely different team to the one that started the last day against Derry. Indeed, it would be a surprise if we didn’t make at least ten changes to last Sunday’s team. This game is a free hit for us in every sense so it’s only logical if we treat it as a glorified challenge match.

The way Monaghan started this year’s League made it unlikely that they’d be condemned to the drop before they got to Round 7. But that Round 1 win over a Dublin team just back off their holidays proved a misleading indicator, as they’ve lost all five matches they’ve played since pipping the Dubs by a point at Croke Park in late January.

The following weekend Kerry made the long trek up to Clones and came away with a nine-point win. In Round 3 Derry inflicted a thirteen-point tanking on them at Celtic Park and in Round 4 Roscommon did much the same, when they had a dozen points to spare over the Farney lads at Dr Hyde Park.

Back in Clones, another defeat followed, this one a seven-point loss to Galway. Then last weekend they battled bravely against Tyrone in the rain on the waterlogged pitch at Healy Park, that three-point defeat confirming their demotion to Division Two for next year.

Sunday’s match is, then, a dead-rubber and, in light of this, it’s difficult to predict the likely outcome. I can cheerfully admit that I’ve no idea which way it’ll go but what about the rest of you? Let’s end with a vote on that.

How will we do against Monaghan?

  • Win (71%, 404 Votes)
  • Lose (19%, 109 Votes)
  • Draw (10%, 57 Votes)

Total Voters: 570

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38 thoughts on “Musing about Monaghan

  1. This vote is a bit like the recent referenda. People being asked to vote with little or no information. I’d imagine that we probably will go for a narrow win, just for confidence sake. Impossible to know what either team will look like. Still, it’s a chance for some lads to show what they can do.

  2. Nice piece WJ, hard to get excited this weekend, feels like there’ll be a bit of a hole now until the Hyde. Hopefully we’ll see some of the players we’ve not seen yet l, the likes of Carr and O’Hora. Realistically we know very little about how our year will shape up until the second round in Connaught, I cannot wait!

  3. Total nothing game for both teams this weekend.
    Kicking our heels now til April 21st in the Hyde, the gossip mill will surely fill the vacuum in those weeks. Lol

    “Player X is flying in training”
    “Player y has fallen out with mcstay, huge row in camp”
    “Player Z has a season ending injury, all hush hush”

    etc etc

    Would love to be going to NYC but dublin club duties dictate 🙁

  4. Isn’t this the type of game we are always craving? Nothing at stake, a chance to try out new players, tweak systems, adjust tactics. And spectators get to see it all – in real time!

  5. Gizmobobs – If that’s the case it will be hard to see him have any impact in 2024. We needed him getting a good solid block of injury free training and games under his belt.

  6. Thats a shame about Carr if true. This week should be all about game time for players that need it. Hoping to see the following named to start;

    Hennelly
    McDonnell
    Plunkett
    O’Hora (if still around)
    Towey
    Cillian
    McHale
    Irwin.

    No need to be starting Ryan, Jordan and Aidan. Its a month out to the Hyde, the run around in NY should keep them sharpish.

  7. @tony freeman. Going by that logic Galway will have no impact on the championship seeing as they have about 75 players injured. Agree with @catcol regarding the game on Sunday. Seemingly nobody wants to win the league and everyone wants players tried out so Sunday is the ideal game to try tactics and players and almost no chance of getting to a league final so we won’t have to go through the pain of winning a national title.

  8. I certainly would’t risk any injuries here. Use the game to work on a few particular things.

  9. Would be an ideal game for Ryan at 11 ,and let him begin to bed in for the year ahead.
    Also start Reape again,if he is our no.1 he needs to get the last game out of his system.
    Give Robbie 2nd half even.

  10. Anyone who is in need of minutes that may end up used in championship needs some decent playing time in this game.
    Aaron McDonnell
    Kevin Quinn
    Paul Towey

  11. Glancing at minutes, a strong case to be made for any of:

    GK: Robbie // Rory

    Def: Plunkett // EO’D // McDonnell // PO’H // Hunt // Kelly

    MF/WF: Reid // Ruane // Tuohy // Loftus // Irwin // McHugh

    Atk: Towey // McHale // Quinn // CO’C // Carr (if actually fit) // McStay and then whoever would best benefit from some confidence

    Depending on who’s fit/sharp enough for the run (the likes of EO’D or PO’H might not be anywhere close ready to start yet) then weave in whatever is needed (e.g. the backline options might need a Rory or Donnacha with them to give some options on height or an Enda/Sam for more cover pace) around them from whoever looks freshest of the usual suspects. The likes of Jordan, Tommy, Enda or Rory probably champing at the bit for more minutes despite the game time to date.

  12. Does anyone know what the story is on Conor Hunt? Looked a very decent prospect against Galway.

  13. @catcol: Do you mean Conor Reid? Picked up an injury 10 minutes into the Dublin game and only just making his way back into the 26 recently. You’d imagine he’ll get a run against Monaghan.

    Conor Hunt we haven’t seen on the grass yet in the league. Had a great year (well, few years) for Aghamore, looked ok against London on a day we never clicked and you’d expect he’ll be one they’ll at least bring off the bench this week. Doing well to push into the 26 ahead of lads like PO’H or EO’D so you’d imagine going pretty well.

  14. @ Nodoubt – I don’t know the status or Injuries of the Galway players nor do i care until we have to play them again.

    If James Carr is out for another while as Gizmobobs mentioned above , i think it is unrealistic to expect him to come in and perform at top intercounty level with no proper pre season, on field conditioning or game time under his belt.

  15. Sorry TSU, it was Conor Reid. Good to know he’s on the way back. Throw Conor Hunt in too of course!
    Yes, Eoin O’Donoghue – they certainly haven’t been pushing him forward so far.

  16. Tony Freeman – I think it’s 9 weeks until the All Ireland group stages start. Loads of time for lads to get fit if needed.

  17. Reality is that carr will miss probably the connaught championship. Between injury and getting back to championship level I don’t see him playing in April or even May. And we desperately need him.

  18. Craggy boglands – by all accounts this time last week Carr was back fit and playing AvB games. So it really depends what kind of setback he got.. if it’s only a 2 or 3 week thing then no reason he can’t feature against New York.

  19. I don’t think it would make much sense to make eight or ten changes just for the sake of giving newer lads game time, if that game time won’t be alongside the established players that will be starting the bigger games. I’d rather see management pick 2-3 of thr newer lads and give them a decent run-out so they can get used to playing alongside our more experienced players. Otherwise I don’t feel anyone will learn a whole lot, to be honest.

  20. I really hope so. Wide ball. We do need him badly. He gives us a different option. I am a fan of carr. But he needs more consistency in his game.

  21. Monaghan were’nt bad last day out and would like a good test ahead of their Ulster campaign and we could do with a good game too. So let us both put out reasonable teams and see how we go on. Up Mayo.

  22. The only “new” lads are McDonnell and possibly Quinn. The likes of Robbie, Plunkett, Eoin O’D, O’Hora(if on panel), Carr, McHale, have bag loads of experience,. Towey has been around long time aswell, I think he even came off the bench in 2020 AIF.

    These lads need minutes. Very hard to justify the commitment to an IC panel, if you don’t get a run out in a dead rubber league game. I cannot fathom why the likes of Ryan, Jordan, Sam, and even Aidan would be risked in a game like this, IF they start. Id bet they are all in the top 5/6 of players with most minutes played in this league campaign.

    Managment need to make whole sale changes. Players need to be kept on their toes. Its a glorified challenge game. Lets make use of it.

  23. I’d say they will Margie, likes of McBrien and Durcan who’ve missed time as well likely get a trot.

  24. @Margie: Can throw in Fenton Kelly, Conor Hunt & Conor Reid in with the “new” category too. I’d probably have Conor Reid one of the more likely to get a start assuming he’s close to 100% fit again.

    Doesn’t change your valid point being made, but just diving into the numbers a little….

    Even with a full 70 minutes in the Monaghan game Aido (currently on 297 minutes, all ignoring injury time) wouldn’t get into our current, without Round 7, Mayo top 7 for league minutes. With teams like Galway (25 used on their panel given all the injuries) & Derry (26 used) carrying such slim panel numbers & other sides being more consistent in their selections (Mayo with 4 players starting all 6 games to date compared to Derry 6, Dublin 6, Kerry 7, Tyrone 8, Galway 8, Roscommon 6 and Monaghan 5) I wouldn’t expect the lads mentioned outside of Sam to make the top 20 for league minutes (even with another full 70).

    There’s currently 25 players in Division 1 that haven’t missed a minute of league football yet, only Sam and Rory for us among those (Jordan close with 411/420 & Ryan not too far back on 372/420). It’ll be interesting to see how many of those 25 get another run this weekend. You’d expect Galway’s 5 and Roscommon’s 1 on 420 minutes to push for the max 490 at the very least, and both to push their 8 and 6 on 6 starts to the 7.

  25. TsuDhoNim – interesting stats on minutes played. However, didn’t Sam miss 10ish minutes vs Kerry due to the red card?

  26. @Wide Ball: Hmmm… great point.

    I’ve set up those calcs in a fairly automated way so I can just copy/paste in match reports with minimal parsing of the data (cheers Mike! Has done a lot of the reports I’ve used for the Examiner).

    I’ve not yet included either Black Cards or Red Cards in the figures as they’re not listed separately from the copy text so harder to isolate the information… but yeah, makes a difference here alright. Can’t think of an easy way to automate it but they’re rare enough that I can throw those in with a quick pass at them once R7 ends. Great spot.

  27. The Mayo senior football team is as follows:
    Rory Byrne Castlebar Mitchels
    Aaron McDonnell Ballinrobe
    Rory Brickenden Westport
    Sam Callinan Ballina Stephenites
    Paddy Durcan (C) Castlebar Mitchels
    David McBrien Ballaghaderreen
    Michael Plunkett Ballintubber
    Matthew Ruane Breaffy
    Aidan O’Shea Breaffy
    Darren McHale Knockmore
    Ryan O’Donoghue Béal an Mhuirthead
    Frank Irwin Ballina Stephenites
    Tommy Conroy The Neale
    Cillian O’Connor Ballintubber
    Paul Towey Charlestown Sarsfields

  28. Good team on paper for Sunday, this is last game before Championship and its disturbing that we have no settled team yet in lots of positions.

  29. goalkeeper all fullback line, halfback line ok, midfield maybe Ruane and Carney thats ok, can even McStay name the six forwards for Roscommon game if we get there. Give me your team wide ball

  30. Culmore I’d guess at adding in the full forward line of Aidan, Tommy and Ryan as being almost certain. With Ryan possibly moving to 11 role more and Aidan doing his usual role of moving out around middle.

  31. Looking at the teams named during the league and assuming everyone is fit (probably won’t happen), I think this will be the team for Roscommon…

    Reape
    Coyne, Brick, Callinan
    Durcan, McBrien, EMc
    Carney, Ruane
    Diarmuid, Boland, Flynn
    Aidan, Tommy, Ryan

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