Monaghan can pull off another great escape by downing Dubs: Dessie Mone
FORMER Monaghan stalwart Dessie Mone has backed the Farneymen to pull off another Division One escape act when they welcome fellow relegation battlers Dublin to Clones on Sunday.
The pair currently occupy the bottom two positions in the top flight, and anything but a win looks unlikely to save Monaghan’s skin as they bid to secure their Division One status for a ninth consecutive campaign.
Yet it is familiar territory for many of Seamus McEnaney’s men.
In 2016 they needed a dramatic last day victory over Donegal to stave off the threat of going down, 2019 and 2020 saw the drop narrowly avoided again, while a Jack McCarron score in the dying seconds of extra-time in a relegation play-off against Galway kept Monaghan up last year.
And Mone hopes they haven’t used up all their luck heading into Sunday’s game.
“There’s always that fear, but Monaghan have always found a way to stay up when they’ve been in this position before.
“There’s an experience that comes with that, they know the challenge that’s ahead, and those boys aren’t going to lie down on Sunday. They’ll be ready for it, and they’ll believe they can do it again.
“It’s been a strange campaign. Probably every team has struggled for a bit of consistency, apart from Kerry. With everything being so compact this year, it looks to me like a lot of managers haven’t put a huge emphasis on the League.
“You can’t go in and give a big speech on a Friday and a Sunday every week. Of course you would want to win every League match, but I think most would be more than happy just to stay up and have something to build on.
“Division One status has been great for Monaghan, especially for the younger players coming through, so there’s a lot at stake. Monaghan need to stay up, and I’d have full confidence in them.”
Part of that belief comes from the Farney’s recent League record against the Dubs, whose last Division One win over Monaghan came in 2017.
Yet, after a slow start to this year’s campaign, Dessie Farrell’s men have looked in rude health on the way to back-to-back wins over Tyrone and Donegal.
The return of James McCarthy has had a massive impact, while they are still awaiting the return of Con O’Callaghan from injury.
Monaghan are also sweating on the fitness of a key forward heading into this clash, and Mone believes the return of Jack McCarron – who hasn’t featured since the draw with Armagh over a month ago - would be a huge boost to the Farney’s survival hopes.
“They have been struggling to convert scores, and Jack missing hasn’t helped that,” said the Clontibret man.
“You need your scorers on the pitch, especially against a team like Dublin. He had been playing well, and when he’s there, there is that extra threat alongside the like of Conor [McManus].
“Jack’s so important for Monaghan when he is playing well, the same way Con is for Dublin.”
Mone also sounded a note of optimism for the future of Monaghan football.
With experienced heads like Rory Beggan, the Wylie brother Drew and Ryan, Kieran and Darren Hughes, McManus, McCarron and Karl O’Connell still leading the way, questions are often asked about what is coming behind.
This year has seen the emergence of Truagh forward Gary Mohan, while the likes of Miceal Bannigan, Aaron Mulligan and Killian Lavelle have forced their way into McEnaney’s plans in previous years.
And Mone, a PE teacher at Largy College, has no doubt the supply line is still in full flow.
“There is a lot of hope in Monaghan,” he said.
“Last year the U20s reached the Ulster final, just last week you had Colaiste Oiriall winning the Ulster U19 Ward Cup – congratulations to them for that – then when you look at the Ulster schools this year, you had an all-Monaghan MacLarnon Cup final [Our Lady’s, Castleblayney and Patrician, Carrickmacross], the Rannafast with Monaghan schools in both semi-finals…
“At every grade Monaghan schools are performing well so there is plenty of talent coming through.”