4 January 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Dr McKenna Cup pipe-opener offers new manager valuable scope for experimentation. by COLM SHALVEY
A Dr. McKenna Cup game against St. Mary’s University on the first Sunday in January certainly isn’t the most glamorous of fixtures, but this opening group game takes on more importance than usual, as Malachy O’Rourke will be hoping to mark his first competitive match as manager with a promising performance.
As usual, the pre-season competition looks likely to be used to try out different players and give . With six newcomers on the panel named last month – Owen Coyle, Gerard McArdle, Shane McQuillan, Donal Hahessy, Pádraig Donaghy and Keith McEnaney – they will surely be given opportunities over the coming weeks. Donaghy is the only one of the six to be named on the starting team for Sunday (see below), which features two established players not named in the original 26-man panel in Darren Hughes and Dessie Mone.
The game in Clones is set to see Donaghy, Fintan Kelly, Stephen Smyth and Paul McArdle make their senior county competitive debuts, while Rory Beggan, whose only previous appearance was in the McKenna Cup against Armagh, has been handed the number one jersey. There is also a return for Martin McElroy, who last donned the white and blue in 2011, with Gavin Doogan, who also missed out last year, on the bench, alongside the other five rookies. Kieran Hughes, Matthew McKenna and Drew Wylie are absent from the 26 for this match, having been named in the original panel.
The sounds coming from the camp since they restarted training have been positive and Monaghan will aim to hit the ground running under O’Rourke to prime themselves for the start of the National Football League. Monaghan start their Division Three campaign against favourites Meath on February 3, before travelling to Breffni Park for a local derby against Cavan six days later, so they will need to be on form early in the year in the bid to return to the second tier of the league.
St. Mary’s have made little impact on the McKenna Cup, despite beating Monaghan in 2009, but they look to have a much …

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