MONAGHAN MEN PRIMED FOR ULSTER FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP MINEFIELD

2 July 2021 No Comments by The Northern Standard

“Jeopardy” is one of the most-used buzz words in sport of late. Attention recently focused on a lack of jeopardy in the group stages at ‘Euro 2020’, where it took 36 games to reduce 24 teams to the last 16 before the tournament heated up for the first knock-out round. Meanwhile, there was little doubt about the outcomes last weekend as Kerry, Mayo and Donegal cruised through their SFC openers.

Monaghan, however, know only too well what a minefield the Ulster championship can be ahead of their quarter-final derby against Fermanagh in Clones this Saturday. Monaghan haven’t appeared in an Ulster SFC Final since winning their second title in three years in 2015 and they have since seen several opportunities pass by, not least last Halloween when letting a big lead slip away against eventual provincial champions Cavan.

That constituted a sucker-punch defeat not unlike the Ulster semi-final loss to Fermanagh two years earlier, although 2018 did at least offer a back door to the All-Ireland series, while 2020 was a ‘one and done’ championship. With no qualifiers again this summer, there is no second chance available once again.

The scars of that extra-time loss at home to Cavan lingered through the winter and Monaghan’s struggles to kill games off came back to haunt them in draws with Donegal and Tyrone that consigned them to a relegation play-off, but they go into the championship on a much-needed high after seeing off Galway last time out. That gutsy extra-time victory saw Monaghan secure an eighth consecutive year in Division One of the Allianz NFL and they will…

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