Tyrone and Monaghan on collision course as Division One survival boils down to Healy Park battle

Defeat will end 10 years in top flight for Farneymen but victory will drag Red Hands into the mire

Darragh Canavan
Darragh Canavan scored 1-4 as Tyrone overcame Mayo at Healy Park. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin

THEIR scoring difference of minus 40 might come into the equation, but Monaghan will give themselves a fighting chance of staying in Division One going into the final weekend if they can beat Tyrone at Healy Park.

Defeat means Monaghan will be relegated, but a win for the Farneymen would drag Tyrone back into the mire and leave the Ulster rivals level on four points apiece with a game remaining. In the final round, Vinny Corey’s men have home advantage against a Mayo side with little to play for while the Red Hands travel to Croke Park to take on Dublin.

So, although the odds seem stacked against Monaghan after four defeats on-the-trot, the experienced escapologists will battle until the final minute of the final game and they can cheat relegation once again if they conjure up another of their annual fighting finishes.

Now in their 10th consecutive year in the top flight, over the last three seasons Monaghan looked destined for the drop going into the final round of games but victories over Galway (2021), Dublin (2022) and Mayo last year in Castlebar have enabled them to wriggle off the relegation hook.

Tyrone will be in serious trouble should they lose out on Sunday-week. The Red Hands have beaten second-from-bottom Roscommon and Mayo but lost to Derry, Galway and, last weekend, to Kerry in Killarney.

With the talent in the team there have been good passages of play in most games, particularly against Mayo when Darren McCurry and Darragh Canavan scored 1-12 between them, but Tyrone have lacked consistency and struggled for fluency in attack.

Monaghan return to Dublin to face the All-Ireland champions on Saturday January 27
Conor McManus should be fit for Monaghan's final two Division One games

Monaghan’s form has been poor but their lengthy injury list is beginning to clear up and midfielder Micheal McCarville says the mood in the camp remains positive.

“We had our injury woes in the last few weeks but Micheal Bannigan and Darren Hughes started (against Galway) and Conor McCarthy and Conor McManus came on so, slowly but surely, we’re getting men back onto the field,” he said.

“We have a lot of quality in our squad so it’s just trying to get everybody back out. We’re under a bit of relegation pressure now but we’re a very close knit group and we have to keep fighting and go at it again.”

Bannigan, McCarthy and McManus were among the scorers against Galway last Sunday but three preventable first half goals – all from routine high balls that broke in the square – were the difference between the sides at Clones. The Farney defence can expect another aerial bombardment when they arrive at Healy Park to take on Tyrone on March 16.

“Galway were in a similar place as ourselves going into the game but the damage was done in the first half, conceding the three goals,” said McCarville.

“We had to respond to them and I thought we did. We went up and got a score after each of the goal but, look, it wasn’t the result we were looking for.

“All we can do is get the heads down and go at it again for the last two games. We have a week off now and then hopefully we can bounce back in the games against Tyrone and Mayo but we know they’re two serious outfits.”