30 January 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Victory for Monaghan is key to prevent having to play catch-up when
the 2014 Allianz National Football Leagues begin
on Saturday. by COLM SHALVEY

he 2014 Allianz National Football Leagues begin on Saturday, with Monaghan one of the first counties in action when they travel to Newry to play Down.

Starting a league campaign as Ulster champions for the first time in 25 years, Monaghan will now be a team that others will be targeting wins against, particularly provincial rivals. Having built up momentum last year by winning six out of eight league games on their way to gaining promotion and lifting the Division Three title, another good run will be a target for the next two months.

Malachy O’Rourke will be fairly happy with a Dr. McKenna Cup which saw his team have four competitive games and reach a semi-final, even if it ended with defeat against local rivals Cavan. Newcomers like Ryan Wylie, Thomas Kerr and Conor Boyle staked their claims for involvement in the league, while Jack McCarron, Conor Galligan and Fintan Kelly are among others who will be hoping to extend their runs in the team.

Midfield remains the big conundrum for O’Rourke and co. to solve as the league looms. Owen Lennon has returned to training, but this game is likely to come too soon for the 2013 captain, whose midfield partner from the championship, Darren Hughes, is facing a long lay-off.

Paul Finlay and Gavin Doogan spent most time in the centre during the McKenna Cup, but the former should return to the half-forward line, with Dick Clerkin also in contention. Kieran Hughes is in line for a return from injury and could get a chance i lár na páirce, although the younger Hughes brother could also …

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