Monaghan aim to build on to Dublin win in trip to Roscommon
Allianz National Football League Division One: Roscommon v Monaghan (tomorrow, Dr Hyde Park, 2pm)
ANYTHING less than victory tomorrow afternoon will be a disappointment for Monaghan after their heroics against Dublin last weekend.
The Farneymen came back from six points down to beat the fancied Dubs by three in Clones and get their campaign off to a spectacular start. Meanwhile, the Roscommon, already earmarked for relegation, had battled gamely but lost to Mayo in truly atrocious conditions at Castlebar the night before.
New Rossies manager Anthony Cunningham – already without the services of stalwarts including Ciaran Murtagh (travelling) and Sean McDermott and Ian Kilbride (retired) will be without Donie Smith tomorrow after the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee reviewed footage of an alleged eye gouging incident involving Keith Higgins and imposed a one-match ban.
The loss of Smith – who could have been handy a more lengthy ban - will be felt as Cunningham rallies his troops for the visit of Malachy O'Rourke's admirable Farney side who continue to confound their dwindling number of doubters.
Ryan Wylie was unlucky to miss out on an Allstar last year and the Ballybay corner-back continued his excellent form with a tireless shift for his side, particularly in the first half when Dublin were in control of the game.
“Thankfully we got the win but it's just two points and we're looking forward to next week,” said Wylie after Sunday's win against Dublin.
“Malachy said coming into the game that if we lost we'd park it and if we won we'd go on ahead as well, so it doesn't really change much.
“Any time you win you're going to be confident, no matter who you play. Dublin were coming as All-Ireland champions for a couple of years in-a-row there so we knew it was going to be a tough test. Any time you get one over them it's a good day.
“We knew that coming in because you've seen plenty of times when we've been on the receiving end of it, Dublin get a goal and they can just run away with it. Luckily enough, we got a couple of points here and there and we slowly got a way back into it.
“Thankfully we were still in touching distance at half-time and maybe there was a bit of a wind in the second half and we got a goal at a good time. The crowd was massive there as well, you heard them, coming out in their droves and hopefully they'll follow us for the rest of the year and a few more good days ahead.”
It was the double substitution that introduced experienced forward Conor McManus and League debutant Stephen O'Hanlon that turned the match in Monaghan's favour last Sunday. McManus could start tomorrow and O'Hanlon is expected to continue his development at Dr Hyde Park.
“Everyone knows Conor's quality, he's been doing it for the last number of years,” said Wylie.
“We know Stephen from the last couple of years in the club scene and it's no surprise really to any of us.
“It probably took a few others by surprise but we knew what Stephen had. He's playing away with the college so it's good for him to come on and it's a good impression. You won't get much better than that - it's not a bad debut. I'd say he'll take it!”
It is typical of the astute O'Rourke that he had his players working on the attacking mark in training and – with accurate delivery from the likes of Colin Walshe and the outstanding Jack McCarron - they used the new experimental rule brilliantly last Sunday.
The Roscommon defenders will need to be on their toes to cut it out and stop the runs of pacey new forwards Michael Bannigan and David Garland. But there is a lack of experience in this Roscommon side and, even with home advantage, they will find Monaghan have too much craft and quality for them tomorrow.