25 January 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan’s participation in this weekend’s Dr McKenna Cup Final marks their first appearance in this Cup final since 2006. by COLM SHALVEY

So far, so good. All Dr. McKenna Cup form comes with the ‘it’s only January’ proviso attached, but the early-season signs are positive after Monaghan qualified for the final and stretched their 100% record to four games.

Malachy O’Rourke’s first month in charge has brought as many competitive wins as in all of 2012 and double the 2011 total. Winning is a habit that Monaghan had lost the knack of in the last couple of years, but the current run should bring some confidence back. Monaghan always looked comfortable in their last group game against Fermanagh in Inniskeen last Wednesday night and would have been more convincing winners had it not been for some wasteful finishing. Highlights included the return of Paul Finlay as a substitute, Owen Duffy’s haul of five points, Dermot Malone’s goal which marked another fine performance and some excellent scores by Dick Clerkin, Darren Hughes, Fintan Kelly and Shane McQuillan.

The semi-final against Down on Sunday brought Monaghan’s least impressive performance of the year to date, but the manner in which they dug out the win in the closing minutes gave grounds for optimism. Monaghan were on the back foot for much of the game, but they refused to wilt and in contrast to last year’s Ulster semi-final against the same opposition at the same venue, they stepped it up in the closing stages. Having fallen behind to a Danny Savage free after …

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