Monaghan can't afford to lose against Cavan: Conor McManus
LAST spring, Monaghan were sitting pretty in Division One of the National Football League, having dismissed the likes of Donegal, Tyrone, Kerry and Dublin, the latter at Croke Park no less.
Tomorrow, the Farney men go into a game with Cavan that has the look of a relegation decider written all over it.
Since beating Dublin on the opening day of this year’s campaign, Monaghan have lost four on the trot and sit rock bottom of Division One, separated from Cavan by points difference.
With all that in mind, Monaghan’s Allstar forward Conor McManus is under no illusions about the importance of Saturday’s game to both counties: “I don’t know if it’s a four-pointer, but whoever doesn’t win is probably down. Even if you do win, there’s no guarantees,” he admits.
“Whoever doesn’t come out the right side of it is going to struggle for Division One status for next year.”
However, despite his blunt assessment of the situation, McManus remains upbeat about the shape of Malachy O’Rourke’s panel as the days get longer and results take on increasing importance.
“I suppose we’re at a stage now where, games last year, we won by maybe a point or two and everybody was talking about us and how good we were going and, this year, we’re losing those games by a point or two instead of winning them,” the Clontibret man adds.
“It’s a very fine line, there’s not a massive amount of difference between where we were at this time last year and now. If you’re not fully up to scratch, you’ll be punished and that’s what we have been so far.
“Every game you set out to play in, you set out to win it and we’re no different to anybody else in that regard. We haven’t done that in the past number of games and our performances haven’t been good enough since the Dublin game.
“Maybe we got a bit of a better of a performance and a bit more of what we’re capable of against Kerry for 45 or 50 minutes but, over the course of a whole game, we haven’t managed to produce the form that warrants a win in Division One.
“We’ve a group of lads there that are working hard and putting in the effort and it’s just about turning that into performances now on the field. As I say, we haven’t been that doing well enough the past number of weeks.
“We got some resemblance of a performance against Kerry but not for the full hour, so we’ll just have to work on that.”
With sixth placed Roscommon facing a tough trip to take on Galway at Salthill on Saturday, there’s a fair chance that the winner in Clones will have managed to drag themselves out of the relegation spots before the weekend is out, but McManus is paying no heed to these calculations.