Monaghan should bounce back with victory over Galway at Clones
Allianz National Football League Division One: Monaghan v Galway (tomorrow, Clones, 2pm, live on TG4)
REALITY bit last weekend when the high of that fully-deserved win over Dublin was followed by losing to Roscommon and now Monaghan need to get back onto an even keel for the visit of a capable Galway side.
Perhaps it was only to be expected that Monaghan's intensity levels would drop a little after the exertions against Dublin and they were unable to find their sparkle at Dr Hyde Park last weekend. Still, they deserved something from the game that was level in injury-time before former Kerry player Conor Cox edged the Rossies ahead and time ran out.
Opponents Galway beat Cavan in their opener but they were ruthlessly swatted away by the Dubs at Croke Park last Saturday night. The Tribesmen started promisingly but Dublin moved smoothly through the gears and cantered to a 1-15 to 0-7 victory.
Manager Kevin Walsh will have a difficult task lifting his players after a defeat like that but he does at least have last year's win over Monaghan to draw on.
The sides met in Salthill in the fifth round of fixtures and, despite 1-3 from Kieran Hughes (who hasn't featured yet for Monaghan in this campaign) the Tribesmen kicked 17 scores to win by four points on the day and that result saw them pip Monaghan for second spot in the table and go on to meet Dublin in the League final.
The Tribesmen – All-Ireland semi-finalists last year - have a long injury list that includes full-forward Damien Comer and full-back Sean Andy O Ceallaigh as well as Eamonn Brannigan, Michael Daly, John Daly, Adrian Varley, Declan Kyne and Paul Conroy.
Walsh is also without the players from Connacht champions Corofin but he refuses to use that as a reason for the heavy loss to Dublin.
“We're missing a lot of players, but that gives other lads the opportunity to step up and we're going to need a few more players to step up later on in the year,” he said, diplomatically.
“We're disappointed with how we finished against Dublin but it was a good first half and that's only game two out of seven.
“We always knew we needed to win two points against Cavan, because the next two games away were always going to be difficult, especially with injuries, but it's short term pain for hopefully long term gain.”
Against Dublin, Monaghan recovered from going six points behind in the first half to win by four.
So much of their success is based on getting the basics right and using their heads: The Dubs had two players sin-binned, Monaghan kept their discipline. The Dubs didn't utilise the attacking mark, Monaghan won the game by using it adroitly.
Now in their fourth season in Division One. Malachy O'Rourke's team know all the angles and, at their best, every player does his job from sweeper/keeper Rory Beggan to key forward Conor McManus, who was once again introduced in the second half last weekend.
Jack McCarron was excellent over the 70 minutes against Dublin but the game turned in Monaghan's favour when Clontibret star McManus and debutant Stephen O'Hanlon were introduced in the second half. O'Hanlon, the hero of his first game, won't be involved tomorrow after he was sent off in his second.
The absence of so many of their experienced personnel means that Galway do not possess the physical threat they will have at full-strength. When Dublin got among them they were able to out-work them and a refocused Monaghan will look to do the same and should bounce back with a win.