GAA Football

Winning in Mayo all that matters now for Monaghan insists Farney midfielder Darren Hughes

Monaghan midfielder Darren Hughes tries to halt the progress of Cavan's Pierce Smith during last Saturday's victory over the Breffnimen in Clones. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

MONAGHAN midfielder Darren Hughes immediately turned his attention to this weekend’s make-or-break clash with James Horan’s mercurial Mayo after taking the derby spoils in Clones on Saturday.

The Farneymen have come out on the wrong side of close encounters against Roscommon, Galway and Kerry already during this campaign, results that left them fighting for their lives heading into last weekend’s date with Cavan.

They are still far from safe with one game to go but a strong showing after the break in Clones kept their dreams of a sixth year in the top flight alive.

On Sunday Malachy O’Rourke’s travel to Castlebar knowing they must at least match the Rossies’ result at home to table-toppers leaders Kerry.

A defeat, a Roscommon draw and a Cavan win could also see them lose out on scoring difference - but victory is the only thing on Monaghan minds as they prepare to head west, according to Hughes.

“We are still going to have to go to Mayo and win,” said the Scotstown stalwart.

“That will be the mindset. We will not know what is going on elsewhere. Our full focus will be on the win and we will not be worrying about anyone else.

“It was all about getting the result here and we backed that up with the performance. The main thing is that we are alive going into next weekend.”

And Hughes also admitted it was important to be the side that came on strong after the break, having gone in level at 0-6 to 1-3.

“It is a derby game and in any derby game form goes out the window,” added the 32-year-old.

“Cavan were competitive in every game and we did a lot of homework on them for this game. It was an important game for us and an important win because we know that they are a quality team with quality players.

“They put us on the back foot early on and they put in a few high balls but we settled ourselves and we were happy enough to go in at half-time in a drawn game but we knew we had to push it on.

“We had a few other tied games at half-time in this year’s League and we didn’t come out the right side of the result in the second half so it was nice to do that today.

“I suppose if you compare it to last year when people were going on about the great League we had, we won three games by a point and one by two points and the big difference this year is that we have been coming out the wrong side in those kind of tight games.

“But nothing happens by chance and the difference today was that we made sure we put in a performance for the full 70 minutes, because playing for 65 minutes is not going to win you anything in Division One.

“We really closed that out well.”

Hughes has been around long enough to remember the days spent in Division Two and Division Three, and has seen the huge strides made since the Farneymen became an established force in the top tier.

They travel to MacHale Park knowing that dropping down again would be a hammer blow this group.

“There is no doubt it is the place to be,” said Hughes.

“If you look at the Super 8s last year, seven of the eight teams came out of Division One. It is the place to be because you are playing against top quality opposition every weekend.

“We went down to Division Two before and we didn’t find it that easy and we ended up in Division Three a year later. We have a lot of young guys coming through who have a lot of quality and we really feel it will stand to them being in Division One year in, year out.

“But we are not there yet for next year and we have another big game coming up next weekend.”

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