» Preview: MONAGHAN vs FERMANAGH (Ulster Football Championship)

19 May

Preview: MONAGHAN vs FERMANAGH (Ulster Football Championship)

Posted by Darren Kelly in Match Previews / Reports,News | May 2017

MONAGHAN vs FERMANAGH (Saturday, 20th May – 7pm Clones)

On paper, this should be straight forward but in Ulster, nothing is certain. Monaghan are at home, they are Division One, and they are aiming to reach their fourth provincial final in five years having won the crown in 2013 and 2015.

Fermanagh have gone into freefall since meeting Dublin in the 2015 All-Ireland quarter-final and a late Derry goal saw them spiral to Division Three for 2018.

The Farney men will be strong favourites and beat Fermanagh 1-20 to 0-13 in their last encounter in 2015. Malachy O’Rourke has developed a consistent outfit who have proven themselves a top six team even with a population of just 60,000.

But they only need to go back to their last championship game in Clones (their 2016 Round Two qualifier loss to Longford) to know they will have to be fully focused.

Jack McCarron is Monaghan’s breakout star and will partner Conor McManus, Gavin Doogan and Kieran Hughes in attack. But they are without Darren Hughes, a massive midfield influence. Rory Beggan will man the sticks with Karl O’Connell and the two Wylies (Drew and Ryan) key defenders.

After an Eoin McManus goal in their league opener against Down, Fermanagh didn’t hit the net again dropping to an injury time goal in the last game. Manager Pete McGrath has injury doubts including Ryan Jones, Declan McCusker, Tomas and Ruairi Corrigan.

But Fermanagh are competitive. Sean Quigley missed a penalty in 2016 against Donegal that could have changed that quarter-final. And Aidan O’Shea’s ‘fall’ in the qualifier loss to Mayo still rankles. And before losses in 2010 and 2015, they did complete five successive wins over Monaghan.

McCusker, Aidan Breen and Che Cullen will be their main defenders; Eoin Donnelly will battle in midfield; with Barry Mulrone, Quigley and Tomas Corrigan the go-to men up front.

Monaghan are 1/8 favourites, Fermanagh 6/1 with the draw 14/1. The large odds are tempting but Monaghan’s loss in
2016 will sharpen their focus.

Verdict: Monaghan

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