Monaghan look to second-half display in Ulster final as they prepare to take on Clare

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies’ IFC Group 2, round one: Monaghan v Clare (Sunday, Clones, 1.30pm)

Darren Greenan
Monaghan ladies' football manager Darren Greenan (David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Monaghan need to show the fight and character they displayed in the second half of their Ulster final defeat to Down right from the off as they start their All-Ireland trail against Clare on Sunday.

That’s according to manager Darren Greenan, who hopes his side can give last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists a real test, and maybe pull off a victory, in the curtain-raiser to the Farneymen’s senior All-Ireland SFC game against Louth.

“We showed in the second half what we were capable of, really performed at the high level that we knew we were capable of doing. Even just on the back of that, forgetting about the result, that performance is the level that you need to be there or thereabouts,” said Greenan.

“It wasn’t easy getting over it. We went into the game on a high, excited and confident, but didn’t underestimate Down by any means.

“We had watched a couple of their games and knew that they would put it up to us, but we felt that we had progressed well over the last number of games and that we would be in with a shout.

“As it turned out we were well in with a shout but unfortunately the first half performance was disappointing and we didn’t execute what we had planned to do for whatever reason. Maybe the occasion got to us, maybe a little bit of inexperience.

“We had to take a lot of extra learnings from that game. We brushed ourselves down and got back at it. In fairness, the response has been brilliant and we are excited about this.”

He doesn’t underestimate the difficulty of the group that also features Offaly with the top two qualifying for the last eight and the bottom placed team entering the relegation play-offs. There is a fine line between making it through to the knockout stages and having to fight to stay up in the middle tier.

“From the start, you are looking at the intermediate teams and Clare is one who stands out,” said Greenan.

“They were in the final last year and they have been up there competing over the last number of years.

“They had a very good league, coming out as [Division Three] winners, they have some very experienced players – Ailish Considine who also plays AFLW, Fidelma Marrinan – they have been about a while, they have played in Croke Park on the big occasions and know what it is like to dine at the top table. This is a real good test for us.”