Monaghan must improve to get the better of Kerry says McAnespie
MONAGHAN will have to improve from their weekend win over Kildare if they are to stand a chance of beating Kerry for the second year running believes Ryan McAnespie.
The Farney men won in Killarney last year, just as they had in Tralee two years previous, but face a rather confident travelling outfit after a win over Mayo that was far more impressive than the three-point margin suggests.
The last thing Kerry need about them is a bit of February swagger but the introduction of several new faces, particularly in attack, have helped the reigning League champions take two wins from two.
While Kerry only qualified for last year’s decider on points difference ahead of Monaghan, Donegal and Mayo, there is a sense that simply surviving in the top flight would once more suffice for Malachy O’Rourke’s side.
After scoring 1-1 for Ulster University in their Sigerson Cup win over Limerick in midweek, McAnespie wasn’t willing to concede that merely staying up was the height of their ambitions, but admitted that they’d be satisfied if that was their lot.
“Winning every match is the priority. If you achieve that, you'll achieve your goal of staying in Division One.
“That's the priority, staying up there and competing with the top teams. You learn more in Division One because they're the team who get to the All-Ireland quarter-finals and semi-finals and so on.”
The nature of the win over Kildare was arguably its most pleasing aspect, with Conor McCarthy kicking the winner on 65 minutes before Monaghan showed their craft and composure to see the day out a point up.
The versatile Emyvale man admits it wasn’t the most polished of displays on the whole but the manner of the win represented a psychological boost nonetheless.
“It does surely but coming out of that game we know we have a lot of improvements to make.
“It wasn't a perfect match but it showed the great character and determination in the team to get that point. It will give boys motivation, because getting two points early on is essential in the league.”
Kerry were perhaps fortunate to emerge with a win over Donegal thanks to two injury-time points that scraped them over the line, but they were vastly superior to Mayo in last Saturday night’s physical encounter.
“Kerry are going well. They have racked up high scores in the last couple of games and we just scraped over the line against Kildare, so it's going to be a completely different opposition come Sunday but we'll just knuckle down this week and try to get our match-ups right and hopefully get the performance we need.
“We maybe caught them on the back foot last year but no doubt they'll be coming up looking for another two points because they've made a good start.”
He is hoping to follow in the recent footsteps of Monaghan team-mate Conor McCarthy, who won a Sigerson Cup with UCD two years ago.
McAnespie has had a big impact on Ulster University’s run to the last four, his performance in pushing up on Conor Meyler helping stifle St Mary’s and then hitting 1-1 in the early burst that helped ease them past Limerick this week.
Like 14 of his Jordanstown team-mates, McAnespie is juggling the demands of university and inter-county football, but says the facilities at university are a massive help.
“I suppose it can be tight enough when you're playing on a Saturday or Sunday and again during the week. You have a couple of days to recover in between and they are essential - being at college gives you that time to recover because you mightn't be put under that much pressure whereas if you're working, you wouldn't have time to rest up.
“At Jordanstown they help you and there's a lots of facilities like ice baths and so on.
“There is pressure on young fellas and it all comes down to the managers as well talking to each other but it is something that probably needs to be addressed, because it is tough. You can be prone to injury if you keep that up.”