GAA Football

Tommy Freeman: Monaghan won't be hung up on Down revenge mission

The Down players celebrate after their surprise Ulster Championship semi-final victory over Monaghan last month. The counties meet again in round 4B of the All-Ireland Qualifiers tomorrow
Neil Loughran

FORMER Monaghan sharpshooter Tommy Freeman doesn’t believe Monaghan will be hung up on gaining revenge when they come face-to-face with Down again tomorrow evening.

The Mournemen sprung the upset of the Ulster Championship when they ousted the Farneymen at the semi-final stage on June 24, leaving Monaghan to pick up the pieces through the back door.

Qualifier wins over Wexford and Carlow saw them set up a rematch against the Mourne County at Croke Park but, while there has been so much talk about avenging that defeat, Freeman expects Malachy O’Rourke to try and take any emotion out of the occasion.

“I’m sure Malachy will have them focused in that this is just another game, and a different route we have to take to go to the All-Ireland stages,” said the Magheracloone man.

“They probably weren’t ready for the intensity or the hitting that Down produced that day, but I’m sure Malachy will keep their feet firmly on the ground.

“He’ll just see it as another match along the Qualifiers and hopefully Monaghan can come out on the right side. If Monaghan get them in a good open field, hopefully they’ll come out on top.”

Freeman admits he was “wary” travelling to the first meeting between the counties at the Athletic Grounds last month.

With Tyrone having destroyed Donegal the previous week, talk was already swirling around about a potential final showdown between Monaghan and the Red Hands.

Down tore up the script that night and Freeman feels the Farney players will be happy to get the chance to right that wrong.

“Yeah, I suppose you would be,” he added.

“I was down at that match and I was wary going into it. I still would’ve expected Monaghan to win but I was just a wee bit on edge about it, maybe because everybody was lining up a Monaghan-Tyrone final before that game.

“Knowing the boys and knowing Malachy I don’t think they would have been complacent but, at the end of the day, when you hear so much talk going on about a Monaghan and Tyrone final, you’re only human. If you hear that, it could sink in.

“Monaghan will try and put right what didn’t go right that day against Down. There is a bit of improvement needed on the Monaghan performances, against Carlow it was always going to be a dogfight, but every win brings confidence.

“I’m not going to say it’s a grudge match because I don’t think they’ll be approaching it that way, but it’s great to get this rematch to try and put things right.”

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GAA Football