MONAGHAN READY TO TAKE A PUNT

25 March 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan put their Allianz National Football and Hurling League hopes on the line this weekend, while the Under-21 footballers bid for an Ulster Final place. by COLM SHALVEY

Monaghan’s Allianz NFL Division One campaign reaches a critical point with Sunday’s game at home to Kerry.

A win over the 2014 All-Ireland champions a year ago this weekend not only gave Monaghan a first win on Kerry soil since 1987, but it also saw a third consecutive victory all but secure them a top-four finish. Wins over Roscommon and Down have been followed by defeats against Dublin, Mayo and Cork for Monaghan, leaving them in a position where they could still qualify for the (soon to be scrapped) semi-finals, but their main goal will be to get another win on the board to take a step towards securing a third year in the top flight.

Kerry’s fortunes so far this year have been in total contrast to Monaghan’s, as they lost their first two games against Dublin and Roscommon, before putting three wins together at the expense of Down, Donegal and Mayo. Éamonn Fitzmaurice has had mixed news on the availability of players. A hand injury sees in-form free-taker Bryan Sheehan join current All-Star Anthony Maher and 2014 Footballer of the Year James O’Donoghue on the sidelines as they continue their recovery from hip and shoulder surgery respectively. Killian Young, Paul Geaney, David Moran and Tommy Walsh are all back after missing recent games, while Colm Cooper made his first start of the league in Castlebar last time out. Darran O’Sullivan’s impressive form has been a big positive for Kerry, while Johnny Buckley and Donnchadh Walsh have also been on song up front. Moran could take Sheehan’s place at midfield alongside Kieran Donaghy, with Marc Ó Sé, Aidan O’Mahony and Shane Enright anchoring a back-line that has conceded less…

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