18 December 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

With the action on the playing fields over for 2015, there is an equal amount of looking back on the year that was and looking ahead to the year to come. by COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan end this year in a good place, not only as Ulster senior football champions, but with schools’ teams and development squads showing promise for the future and high expectations for the county minors and Under-21s for 2016. For Malachy O’Rourke’s side, the new campaign is already just over a couple of weeks away via the start of the Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup and the fixture schedule has already been announced for the 2016 Ulster Senior Football Championship.

Monaghan’s defence of the Anglo-Celt Cup will begin on Sunday, June 5 with a quarter-final against Down in Clones and while that is the guts of six months away, with a second consecutive Allianz National Football League Division One campaign to come in the meantime, a big circle is likely to already be around that date for all involved, at least metaphorically.

Monaghan haven’t won back-to-back provincial senior titles since 1929 and 1930 and the county has only twice previously won it three times in four years, so there will be no shortage of motivation come summer time. There will also be a burning desire to get over that treacherous All-Ireland quarter-final hurdle, one that has proven too high for Monaghan in each of the last three years. No retirements from inter-county football have been announced. Dick Clerkin has indicated his intention to continue as the longest-serving county player in the country, having recently undergone keyhole surgery on an old ankle injury. Team captain Conor McManus, who has himself put off a possible second opera ….


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