8 April 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Whatever else about Monaghan’s championship potential this year, their 2016 NFL campaign is likely to go down in the annals after their heroics in ‘blayney last Sunday. They say consistency is the hallmark of greatness and Monaghan’s success in cementing the county’s status as a top flight team was great work in anyone’s language even if the vagaries of scoring difference did give them a helping hand. Had relegation been Monaghan’s fate last weekend, it would have been a major blow to Malachy O’Rourke’s plans for the summer. Instead, his team’s 1-10 to 1-9 victory over Donegal will be a tremendous tonic for his troops.

From a distance, Monaghan’s trip through the trap door into division two seemed pretty predictable once they went no-score to 1-4 behind after less than 20 minutes but Daniel McKenna’s 21st minute goal was to prove pivotal in changing the landscape of St.Mary’s Park into a dreamscape. It takes a good team to come from distance and gain parity but it takes a very good team to push on and seal an unlikely victory. It’s obvious that the Monaghan players feel that playing in division one is just too good a feel-good story to let goof.How else can you explain the fighting spirit, character, composure and absolute determination that paved the way for ColinWalshe’s winner in the dregs of injury time.

Staying in division one for 2017 should be huge for Monaghan. The difference in match intensity, quality and pressure between the NFL and the blue riband championship fare is hardly recognisable at this juncture. But nothing elevates a team onto a championship plateau than a pre-championship season spent among the big boys. No wonder then that Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke appeared so emotional in front of the television camera in ‘blayney. The Fermanagh man knows that relegation would have threatened to suck the life out of his squad’s morale..


Battling performance:
Monaghan celebrate at
Castleblayney on Sunday
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