28 March 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan will attempt to take another step towards a second consecutive promotion when they welcome Laois to Clones on COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan are in a three-way tie at the top of Division Two with two rounds to go and they will be confident of picking up a third successive win this weekend.

Mixed form in the first three rounds left Monaghan in mid-table, but having seen off Louth and Armagh comfortably, Malachy O’Rourke’s side are well placed for another promotion tilt; knowing that if they win their last two games, it will give them a very good chance of edging out either Down and Donegal. Sunday’s opponents Laois won two of their first three games against current bottom two Galway and Louth, but defeats against Armagh and Meath mean they are precariously placed, just a point above the relegation zone.

Monaghan have two of the most consistent scorers in the league so far in Conor McManus and Jack McCarron, while Kieran Hughes has also been in good form and Paul Finlay could return to the team to boost their scoring power, particularly if he lines out in the half-forward line.

Midfield has been an issue throughout this year for Monaghan, but Owen Lennon has three games under his belt in the last few weeks, while Peter O’Hanlon and Darren Hughes have also returned from lengthy injury absences to bolster O’Rourke’s options. O’Hanlon and Hughes came off the bench in Armagh and they both played full games for their clubs last Sunday to stake their claims for involvement on Sunday. Dessie Mone has been excellent in the half-back line for Monaghan in the last two games and Colin Walshe and Fintan Kelly (if recovered from the knock he took in the dying seconds of the Armagh game, which saw him miss out for Clones in their IFL opener) should take on Laois corner-forwards Ross Munnelly and Gary Walsh.

Laois, who finished third in Division Two under Justin McNulty last year, are now managed by Kerry native and former Westmeath and Galway boss Tomás Ó Flatharta, will be looking for big performances from the likes of Munnelly and Dónie Kingston up front, John O’Loughlin, Kevin Meaney and Colm Begley around midfield, attack-minded wing-back Darren Strong and full-backs Pádraig McMahon and Peter O’Leary.

Monaghan won’t have fond memories of their most recent clash with Laois, which saw them exit the 2012 championship with a six-point defeat in their second-round qualifier. The last league …

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