Darren Hughes says Monaghan must urgently plug leaks in their porous defence for this weekend’s All-Ireland SFC preliminary quarter-final trip to Tullamore to take on Kildare
The Farney men were picked apart by a rampant Donegal attack at O’Neills Healy Park last Saturday, where defeat scuppered their chances of a second place finish in the round robin group and home advantage for the first of the knock-out rounds.
“We’ll have to batten down the hatches somewhere along the way, and it’s very disappointing from that point of view,” said Hughes.
“It shouldn’t have been happening. We’ll have to look back at it and see where the issues started.”
The strong and direct running of Jamie Brennan and Daire Ó Baoill caused countless problems for a hesitant Monaghan rearguard, exposing a myriad of issues that manager Vinny Corey will have to address this week.
“Daire O Baoill got through there for a number of scores.
“Ryan O’Toole held Oisin Gallen well, but scores were coming from other places around the field. It just wasn’t good enough,” said veteran midfielder Hughes.
“We conceded 13 points in the first half, so you’re not giving yourself a good head start going into the latter stages of any game if you’re going to concede 13 points in the first half.”
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Monaghan were in pole position to claim the lucrative runners-up spot in their group, but a resurgent Donegal brought energy and passion to a high stakes Ulster derby.
“We knew that was going to be the story coming in. We wanted home advantage next week, for we were preparing ourselves for a game next week, as we expected Derry to do the business against Clare.
“It is disappointing not to get home advantage, and we have a tricky away trip now next weekend.”
The form guide pointed to a Farney victory, chiefly due to Donegal’s well documented troubles on and off the pitch.
But new manager Aidan O’Rourke had his players fired up and ready to send out a defiant message.
“They didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect them to. They still have good players all over the field, no matter what was going on in the background,” Hughes said.
“We prepared as well as we could, but we just gave them too much of a head start in the first half.
“We didn’t play well enough, and Donegal were the better team on the day.”