Malone hoping Monaghan can bag the bragging rights against rivals Cavan

Monaghan minor manager Dermot Malone
Monaghan minor manager Dermot Malone Monaghan minor manager Dermot Malone

BRAGGING rights are on the line in Clones this Sunday afternoon and former Monaghan half forward Dermot Malone is hoping it’s his county who can emerge victorious when they take on old rivals Cavan.

It’s the first time the two neighbouring counties have crossed swords in the championship since the preliminary round clash of 2020 when Cavan travelled to Clones and kickstarted a historic run that ended with an Ulster title and an All-Ireland semi-final appearance.

Raymond Galligan was the hero that afternoon as the Breffni netminder landed a huge score at the end of extra time to secure a safe passage through to the quarter-final. This time around, he’ll be in the Cavan dugout wearing the bainisteoir bib.

Form usually goes out the window when two rivals lock eyes on each other, especially in big championship games, and Malone, the current Monaghan minor boss, isn’t expecting anything different this weekend.

“It’s a local derby and I know from speaking to a few people close to the Cavan border, there’s a lot of bragging rights on the line, which there always is and in fairness, Cavan have done really, really well,” said the two-time Ulster Championship winner.

“They were unlucky not to come out of Division Two, so they’ll be coming all guns blazing. No matter which team is in form and no matter which team is out of form, it always seems to turn into an arm-wrestle.

“That’s brilliant because it’s intense, there’s needle in it here and there and those games are always ones to look forward to and I can’t wait for it for Sunday.”

Monaghan head into the championship off the back of losing their grip on their top tier status as they were relegated following a ten-year long spell in Division One, but Malone isn’t too concerned by their league standings.

Vinny Corey’s side won just one game in Division One, the opening round tie against league finalists Dublin at Croke Park but lost six matches on the bounce to finish the campaign at the bottom of the table.

It’s not the end of the world says Malone and points to plenty of other teams that have dropped out of the topflight in recent years, including league champions Derry, and it hasn’t done them much harm.

“It’s not necessarily a good thing but I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” added Malone. “If you look at the volume of teams that were relegated over the last number of years, all the top teams have been down in Division Two.

“It’s done them no harm and it can do you the world of good at the same token. I don’t think it’s the end of the world, it’s a lot worse going from Division Two to Division Three than it is from Division One to Division Two.

“Hopefully they’ll not stay there too long, but I think it’s not necessarily a bad thing and hopefully we’ll be back up to Division One sooner rather than later.”