DONEGAL VICTORY GIVES GROUNDS FOR OPTIMISM FOR NEW LOOK MONAGHAN SIDE

18 January 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Panel building, not giant killing, is boss O’Rourke’s main concern as he begins to shape his National League squad. by COLM SHALVEY
Monaghan may have been facing a makeshift Donegal team in last Sunday’s Power NI Dr. McKenna Cup match in Ballybofey, but 17-point win (scoring 3-16 in the process) has to be a welcome boost to confidence.
Monaghan were totally on top from the start and a three-point lead was scant reward for their first-half dominance, after Adrian Hanlon found the net for Donegal, against the run of play. The visitors made their superiority count in the second half, during which they racked up 3-9, all but two points of which came from play. Manager Malachy O’Rourke was correct to play down the significance of the result considering the time of year and the weakness of the Donegal line-up, which didn’t feature any of the players who won the All-Ireland last September, but he will still have been encouraged by aspects of his team’s performance.
Not least of those was the superb display of Kieran Hughes, who was making his first appearance of the season. His five points, each one as good as the one that went before, caught the eye, but it was also his catches and battling for breaking ball that impressed and will hopefully be the start of a big year for him. Conor McManus was as prominent as ever in attack, while debutants Keith McEnaney and Donal Hahessy improved as the game went on; McEnaney taking his goal well in the first minute of the second half. The Corduff man was soon replaced by Dermot Malone, who revelled in his more advanced role, as he scored 1-2. Owen Lennon and Darren Hughes, who punched home the third goal from a Thomas O’Neill pass, dominated midfield, while the backs were also on top. Corner-backs Ronan McNally and Owen Coyle even found time to raid forward on a number of occasions – Coyle kicking a fine point and McNally setting up Malone’s goal – as did Kieran Duffy, who also landed a well-taken point.
O’Rourke and co. will also be happy with the fact that they used 25 players between the St. Mary’s and Donegal games. Eight players got on the scoresheet at Mac Cumhaill Park, bringing the total number of scorers in the first two matches of the year to 14.
As well as making it four consecutive wins against Donegal …

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