CORK CLASH HOLDS KEY TO NFL FATE

13 March 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

In a busy week for county teams, Sunday’s long trip to Cork holds the key for the rest of Monaghan’s Allianz National Football League Division One campaign. by COLM SHALVEY

Like this time last year, Monaghan go into the last three rounds with two wins and two defeats to their name, although this time around, they are on the back of consecutive losses, in contrast to 12 months ago, when a low-scoring battle in Letterkenny had launched a run of three wins in succession.

Monaghan have again proven their ability to mix it with the top teams, having been competitive to the end against both Dublin and Mayo in the last fortnight, but they will be disappointed at finishing empty-handed in games where there were points there for the taking. Two or three points from those games could have Monaghan sitting pretty and going all-out to qualify for the semi-finals for a second year in a row, but given the unpredictable nature of some recent results – not least those involving Sunday’s opponents – mean they need to avoid sliding further down the table, even with two home games still to come.

The big question this weekend is how Cork will perform. Even by their inconsistent standards, Cork’s first campaign under former selector Peadar Healy has been particularly hard to work out. A fine opening-round win over Mayo was followed by tame performances in heavy defeats against Donegal and Roscommon, before last week’s topsy-turvy game at Croke Park, where Cork raced into a seven-point lead, only to be caught by a comeback from Dublin, who went on to win by four.

Colm O’Neill, whose duel with Ryan Wylie in Cork’s exciting one-point win in Castleblayney last year, hit his stride with 1-3 last Saturday, while the form of U-21 Peter Kelleher, who has scored three goals in his last two games, is a real positive for the Rebels. They will also be looking for big performances from the likes of Paul Kerrigan….

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