GAA Football

Monaghan target return to last four against Cork

EXPERIENCE: Jason Irwin was one of three current players involved in Monaghan's All-Ireland quarter-final win over Kildare last season Picture: Seamus Loughran Saturday
By Padraig Kelly

All-Ireland Minor Football Championship quarter-final: Monaghan v Cork (tomorrow, Bord na Mona O'Connor Park, 6pm, live on TG4)

MONAGHAN will attempt to reach the All-Ireland semi-final for the second consecutive season when they meet Cork in Tullamore tomorrow evening.

Twelve months ago Seamus McEnaney, who has been nominated for the vacant senior position in the county this week, saw his side build on their Ulster final win over Derry to power past Kildare in a performance laden with attacking class.

Mark Counihan may now be in charge but he'll be hoping to follow a similar path after their 1-13 to 1-11 Ulster final win over Tyrone a fortnight ago.

The side retains three starters from the team that defeated the Lilywhites last season – Shane Hanratty, Karl Gallagher and team captain Jason Irwin, and surprisingly the latter was the only one who didn't get on the scoresheet in that game.

The Oram youngster is the focal point of the Farney attack and has 1-13 to his name already in the Championship, but he is far from their only attacking weapon.

Gallagher, Darragh Dempsey and Liam McDonald, who scored a hat-trick against Donegal in the Ulster semi-final, also provide other reasons why the Rebel defence should be wary.

Monaghan have played five, won five to get to this point while Cork have played three, lost two – but that doesn't mean that they should be underestimated.

A new format divided Munster into phases this year and they came second in their phase two group after losing to Kerry and beating Clare.

That was good enough for another shot at the Kingdom in the Munster decider and Bobbie O'Dwyer's side were much improved in a 3-14 to 2-14 loss.

“They have a great spread of forwards, in particular [Connor] Corbett and [Ryan] O'Donovan,” Counihan said of tomorrow's opponents, and Cork look adept all over the pitch.

Daniel Linehan will likely pick up Irwin while Jack Lawton and Keelan Scannell have been impressing in midfield. Jack Cahalane and Patrick Campbell have also proven effective in front of the posts alongside Corbett and O'Donovan.

Monaghan will feel that they have the perfect balance throughout the pitch though and they will be confident in their ability to contain their opponents.

The fact that Cork got within three points of Kerry in the Munster final was a warning, while the U20's destruction of their rivals means that the Rebel county is in good spirits (in football at least), but the Farney county have the ability to take their place in the last four once again.

Elsewhere, Dublin's search for a first All-Ireland title, or indeed final appearance, since 2012 will continue this afternoon when they meet Mayo in Longford (3pm).

Jim Lehane's side were given a scare against Westmeath in the Leinster semi-final before falling five points short of Kildare in the provincial final.

Mayo, meanwhile, came through a real battle with Galway and needed extra-time to secure a one-point win with Ethan Henry starring in midfield.

The Tribesmen will attempt to bounce back tonight when they meet Kildare, the game also taking place at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park (7pm).

Paths to the quarter-finals

Monaghan

Ulster Minor Football Championship preliminary round

Monaghan 1-13 Down 1-10

Ulster Minor Football Championship round one

Monaghan 0-6 Antrim 1-2

Ulster Minor Football Championship round two

Monaghan 3-8 Tyrone 0-13

Ulster Minor Football Championship preliminary round

Monaghan 5-10 Donegal 2-11

Ulster Minor Football Championship final

Monaghan 1-13 Tyrone 1-11

Cork

Munster Championship phase two round one

Kerry 3-19 Cork 1-9

Munster Championship phase two round two

Cork 3-9 Clare 0-14

Munster Championship final

Kerry 3-14 Cork 2-14

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