30 May 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan now know their opponents for the first game of the Ulster Senior Football Championship defence after Tyrone beat Down in last Saturday’s preliminary round replay. by COLM SHALVEY

After this Saturday’s round of club league games, it will be ‘all systems go’ for Malachy O’Rourke and co. in their preparations for June 15, when the familiar foes from Tyrone will again stand in Monaghan’s way. Monaghan haven’t beaten the Red Hand County in the championship since 1988 and they have lost to Mickey Harte’s teams five teams.

The most recent of those was, of course, last August’s All-Ireland quarter-final, just weeks after Monaghan had won a first Ulster championship in 25 years. The confidence gained by Monaghan last summer and in this spring’s successful National Football League Division Two campaign should count in their favour, as well as home advantage, but Tyrone already have two championship games under their belt and they showed signs of improvement last Saturday.

Having conceded three goals in the drawn game, Tyrone kept a clean sheet in Newry, helped by keeper Niall Morgan, who had been black-carded in Omagh, staying on the pitch for the 70 minutes. With Ciarán McGinley scoring two goals and Peter Harte netting a penalty for the second game in a row, Tyrone did enough to win with eight points to spare.

The big Ulster quarter-final in Clones will be two weeks away this Sunday and at the minute, Kieran Hughes and Paudie McKenna are expected to be fit, but it is expected to come too soon for Conor McManus and Gavin Doogan.

Meanwhile, Donegal already look certainties to be in a fourth consecutive Ulster SFC Final after …

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