24 June 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan and Donegal have been on a collision course since the Ulster SFC draw was made. Old wounds will be opened up once more this Saturday in Kingspan/Breffni Park, Cavan.

We’ve been here before. More times than Seanie Johnston has found the net for Cavan. More times than Tyrone have conceded goals in this year’s championship. This Saturday’s meeting of Donegal and Monaghan has déjà vu stamped all over it in big, bold capital letters.

In plotting the twists and turns of clashes between Ulster’s new Old Firm over the last five years, we’ve throttled all the cliches, exhausted all the metaphors and broke more crystal balls than a body could recycle. Finding new chinks of light in the storied rivalry of Monaghan and Donegal is difficult.

It’s been all swings and roundabouts for both counties since, we’ll say, the advent of the Malachy O’Rourke era four years ago. In their head-to-head clashes, back-to-back victories are as rare as the sound of the corncrake in places as far apart as Drumhowan and Dunfanaghy, Cremartin and Creeslough.

But then the rivalry between Tir Chonaill and the Farney County – which is becoming almost epochal-like – is about much more than just the billboard names of O’Rourke, Gallagher, McManus and Murphy.

The thing is, for all the gold dust that the aforementioned quartet will surely sprinkle on proceedings at Kingspan/Breffni Park this Saturday, it’ll be the superior collective energy and football nous brought to bear by one camp or the other which will determine which county is garlanded with a place in the provincial decider.

Time and time again, pundits of various hues and backgrounds have played down the…

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