12 January 2017 No Comments by The Northern Standard

A busy week beckons for Monaghan in the Dr. McKenna Cup with games against Antrim and St. Mary’s University. by COLM SHALVEY

Part one of the quick-fire double-header sees Monaghan travel to the unfamiliar venue of Glenavy – changed from the original plan of Corrigan Park in Belfast – to take on Antrim this Sunday. Monaghan will be looking to build on their one-point opening win over Fermanagh, while Antrim lost by the same margin in a high-scoring clash with St. Mary’s University, Belfast, who will be the visitors to Inniskeen on Wednesday night.

Malachy O’Rourke will more than likely make several changes to the Monaghan team for these last two group games, continuing to give opportunities to newcomers after handing out four debuts last Sunday. Goalkeeper Conor Forde will hope to be handed his senior inter-county competitive debut in the next week, as will Aaron Lynch, Niall Kearns, Stephen McCabe, James Wilson and Mikey Murnaghan.

12 of the 25 players who appeared in the 2016 championship featured against Fermanagh (nine from the start). Four of the eight ever-present players from last summer were absent, namely Conor McManus, Vincent Corey, Ryan McAnespie and Drew Wylie. McAnespie, who was named in the Ulster University panel for the McKenna Cup, was a spectator in Clones last Sunday, as were others like Dessie Mone and UCD students Barry McGinn and Conor McCarthy.

Ryan Murray provided much-needed cheer for Antrim with his 1-6 tally last weekend, while Creggan’s Ruairí McCann and substitute Tomás McCann also found the net. Veteran forward Kevin Niblock adds experience to a largely youthful Saffrons side in the absence of the likes of UU students Kevin O’Boyle, Ricky Johnston and Niall McKeever, the recently retired Michael McCann and Brian ‘Bam’ Neeson, who has committed to ….

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