GAA Football

Monaghan's Ryan Wylie out to end Croke Park hoodoo against Tyrone

Monaghan's Ryan Wylie and Tyrone's Darren McCurry have been regular rivals, and may meet again in Croke Park on Saturday.
Picture Hugh Russell
Andy Watters

PLAYED four, lost four. That is Monaghan's disappointing return against Tyrone at Croke Park but the Farneymen have come mighty close to taking the scalp of the Red Hands on the GAA's biggest stage.

Remember Conor McManus clean through and ready to pull the trigger only for Sean Cavanagh to desperately drag him down in 2013? Remember the semi-final three years ago when it took Niall Sludden's goal to see off a determined effort from the Farneymen?

On Saturday, Monaghan have the chance to banish those Croke Park memories against Tyrone and Ryan Wylie – who was on the losing side in 2018 – says the latest instalment in this Ulster rivalry will have "a life of its own".

"If you get to an All-Ireland semi-final you want to go and win it and unfortunately we didn't in 2018," said the Ballybay native.

"It would have been a career defining moment, it would have been unbelievable to experience an All-Ireland final, but Tyrone were far better than us on the day. It would have been complete luck if we had managed to get over the line.

"I played against them in 2015 [All-Ireland quarter-final] so both days were disappointing.

"I say this game will take on a life of its own, both teams have different management teams and hopefully we'll be able to flip the result this weekend."

With the pace and athleticism in the side, the Monaghan class of 2021 may be the best equipped for Croke Park. Seamus McEnaney's team is full of strong runners, including team captain Wylie but he rejects the suggestion that this side would have the edge over the others.

"You're probably doing a disservice to the other teams that got there to face Tyrone," he said.

"In 2013 we won our first Ulster Championship in 20-odd years, in 2015 another Ulster Championship. They were two great teams.

"In 2018 it was the first time we got past the All-Ireland quarter-final mark so you'd probably be doing those teams a disservice.

"We have a completely fresh team and we were lucky enough to get to the final. It's probably a very similar team that played against Cavan last year and we probably weren't getting the best headlines after that. As the saying goes: 'You're only a foot away from a pat on the back and a kick in the arse'."

If momentum counts for anything on Saturday, then there's no doubt that Wylie and co. should have plenty of it. After a sluggish start to their League campaign without suspended manager Seamus McEnaney, Monaghan found form and have won the two best games of this season so far.

First was the dramatic extra-time relegation play-off win against Galway at Roscommon but it was eclipsed by the thrilling score-fest against Armagh the swung one way, then the other and back to Monaghan again.

"When you start winning matches and start getting on a roll you starting feeling good about yourself. You have a spring in your step going into training," said Wylie.

"Luckily enough we came out on the right side of those results. The Galway game especially, if we had lost that it could have gone to our heads but it's nice to gather up a bit of momentum.

"Ourselves and Tyrone both had to win two tough games to get to the Ulster final so whatever momentum we have, Tyrone will have the same."

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GAA Football