GAA Football

Monaghan minor boss Mark Counihan expects a "battle in Brewster" against Donegal

Monaghan minor manager Mark Counihan is relishing a "cracking game" tonight. Picture Seamus Loughran
Diarmuid Pepper

MONAGHAN boss Mark Counihan is anticipating a “battle in Brewster” when his fledgling stars take on Donegal in this evening’s Ulster Minor Football Championship semi-final at 8pm.

However, Counihan says it’s a shame that there may be a rather paltry crowd there to see it.

“Chatting to different guys involved in minor teams this year, you get the sense of an opportunity missed for these young lads,” Counihan remarked.

“They could have had a chance to get a big day out in front of huge crowds. I thought it might have worked come the semi-final stage because there are loads of qualifiers on where you could stick them in.

“Towards the latter stages, it would have been a nice reward to be playing and involved in double headers with senior teams. It would have also been a fantastic opportunity for the semi-finalists to showcase the football they can play, so that is a big pity.”

Counihan’s young guns have won all of their Ulster Championship games thus far but are fully aware of the strength of the Tir Chonaill men.

“It’s got the ingredients to be a cracking game. Donegal have probably one of the best forwards in the competition in Johnny McGroddy, he’s been racking up a lot of scores from play,” said Counihan.

“They have hit 3-36 in their last two games, they get back well and defend and have a formidable midfield. We will have to take our chances against them and be sharp up front because if we get turned over, they break very fast and can hurt you on the counter-attack.”

Monaghan have dispatched Down, Antrim and Tyrone on route to the final four.

In Monaghan’s last outing they overcame a strong Tyrone by four points, scoring three goals in the process.

But that encounter was six weeks ago, which “feels like a lifetime” to Counihan.

“We are on a good run. We beat Down in the preliminary round in a very tough battle. We had Antrim after that and it was unique in the weather that the game was played in. It wasn’t about football; it was about character and just getting over the line.

“In the next game against Tyrone, we produced a very good performance, but that’s six weeks ago now. You are nearly starting from the foot of a mountain again on Friday night."

However, Counihan revealed that the six week gap has produced some benefits for Monaghan.

“The break has been good in that it has given us an opportunity to rest up and recuperate and give another few guys an opportunity to put their hands up for a starting place. It has been good in that respect but it is like starting afresh in this encounter.”

While Monaghan are undefeated in this year’s Ulster Championship, Donegal have not had quite so straightforward a run to the semi-final.

The Tir Chonaill men ousted Armagh and racked up an impressive 1-18 in a win against Cavan, but were forced into these qualifying rounds on the back of an opening day loss to Tyrone.

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