MONAGHAN AIM TO RECLAIM ULSTER TITLE AGAINST DEFENDING CHAMPS DONEGAL

17 July 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The latest installment of the rivalry between Monaghan and Donegal is set to draw a capacity crowd to St Tiarnach’s Park on Sunday, with the third consecutive Ulster Final between these teams a sell-out. by COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan, of course, shocked then All-Ireland champions Donegal in the 2013 decider, before relinquishing their provincial title a year later, so it’s honours even going into part three of this burgeoning rivalry, which sees the same two teams contest this fixture for a third year in a row for the first time since the 1960s.

Both of these teams reached the semi-finals of the Allianz National Football League Division One this spring, where a disinterested-looking Donegal team lost to Cork, while Monaghan pushed Dublin all the way in losing by a point. Monaghan beat Donegal in Letterkenny in March, overturning the defeat at the same venue last year, while they also won the 2014 NFL Division Two Final, so these teams are more than familiar with each other at this stage. Donegal were drawn in the Ulster preliminary round this year, but this traditional death knell to a team’s provincial hopes doesn’t faze the Tír Chónaill men, who won back-to-back titles from that stage in 2011 and 2012.

Donegal continued their good recent record against neighbours Tyrone by edging a hard-hitting opener and the expected quarter-final test from Armagh didn’t materialize, as a subdued Orchard County side were easily blown away. Donegal did get a scare from Derry in their semi-final, but another Martin O’Reilly goal proved decisive in a low-scoring game.

Monaghan were always favourites to come through their side of the Ulster draw and they did so. Cavan gave Monaghan a real test in the quarter-final, only for the visitors’ experience to tell in the closing stages, while Fermanagh were also competitive for most of the semi-final, until Monaghan pulled away towards the end.

A completely different challenge awaits on Sunday, as Monaghan take on a familiar foe, who went all the way to the All-Ireland final after their three-point win in this fixture 12 months ago. Donegal have won 13 of their last 14 Ulster SFC games, they are in their fifth consecutive final ….

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