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Monaghan Will Provide A Serious Test For Tyrone

Friday 20.07.2012
Team Talk Mag

After the long run to Killarney on Saturday it will be time to turn the focus the minds on Clones and Ulster final Day on Sunday. Monaghan will head to the market town venue intent on lifting the Ulster minor football trophy ‘The Liam Murray Cup’ for the fourth time in their history and for the first time since 1945. They go into the game in many people’s eyes as underdogs especially with Tyrone’s recent record in the competition as the Red Hand lads go in search of title number twenty two.

Interestingly although it is over sixty years since the Farney county last tasted success at Minor level they have appeared in provincial finals in 2001 and again in 2008 where they lost on both occasions to Tyrone. Of course Sunday’s final is a totally different game on a totally different day but the men in blue will be determined to prevent Tyrone from making it make it three final wins from three appearances against them. They will have the advantage of home backing with a large Monaghan support expected to attend and get behind their team.
Many of these Monaghan supporters will be hoping that their minor team can give football within the county a huge lift by collecting the Ulster minor title following the recent on field disappointments that saw the county’s senior team lose a big lead to Down in the Ulster semi-final and then exiting the qualifiers last Sunday at the hands of Laois.

This is a team from whom a lot is expected within Monaghan and manager Colin McAree and his assistant Eglish man Mattie McGleenan have put in a lot of work with this squad as they plotted their way to the Ulster Final. They have been together as a group since last September to prepare for this year’s Championship campaign. They enjoyed a decent run in the Ulster Minor league where they defeated Armagh and Down to top their league group before losing to Derry in the league semi-final.

In an attempt to focus the players on the task at hand the whole squad spent last weekend in Johnstown House, Enfield (a training base used by many top sports teams including Donegal, Sunderland, Ireland and the Leinster rugby team) fine tuning their preparations so Tyrone can expect to meet a determined challenge from the men in blue on Sunday. Of course with Mattie Mc Gleenan’s in-depth knowledge of Tyrone and their style of play Monaghan will have a decided advantage and he will have plans made to stop the free scoring Tyrone forward line which chalked up 4-11 against Armagh and 0-15 against Derry.

Tyrone go into Sunday’s game as favourites having defeated fancied Armagh and Derry teams on the way to the final and the pressure will be on Tyrone to deliver another Ulster title. However there is no doubt that the pressure will also be on this Monaghan team to win an Ulster title given their level of preparation and the resources that has been invested in them this year.

En route to the Ulster Final Monaghan defeated Antrim in the quarter final in Clones on a score of 2-10 to 1-2 and Down in the semi-final in the Athletic Grounds on a score of 0-11 to 0-8. Their victory over Antrim was a low key affair with Monaghan always holding the upper hand. An Antrim penalty before half time looked to have given them some hope for the second half but a flurry of Monaghan points after half time killed the game as a contest with Antrim failing to score at all in the second half and Monaghan running out comfortable 11 points winners.

Their semi-final against Down was a much closer affair with the Mourne men holding the upper hand in the first half. Indeed they really should have been much further than one point ahead at half time but as the game wore on Monaghan grew stronger and in a very composed finish they kicked the last 5 points of the game to win by three in the end.

Monaghan employed well-rehearsed defensive tactics against Antrim and Down and they are expected to again play with the same defensive system that worked so well for them in these games. They deploy a lot of men behind the ball when they lose possession and try to counter attack at pace. Monaghan will try to limit the space available to the Tyrone full forward line, attempt to turn the ball over as Tyrone attack, counter attack at pace from defence and deliver quality early ball to their two inside forwards, Adam Treanor and Fergal McGeough.

Monaghan’s two wing half forwards Ryan McAnespie and Padraig Keenan will drop back in front of their full back line when required. Padraig Keenan is their team captain and a player they will look to for inspiration while young Ryan McAnespie will be familiar to many of the Tyrone boys as the Emyvale player is a pupil at St Ciaran’s Ballygawley and a vocational schools all star this year.

Their half forwards Conor McCarthy and David McAlister are both capable of scoring. McAlister scored 3 points from play against Down and was ESB ‘man of the match’ in that game, he had previously scored 1-1 against Antrim in the quarter final. Conor McCarthy is a player with pace and an ability to carry the ball he also scored 1-1 against Antrim and kicked 2 points from frees against Down.

The Monaghan half back line of Shaun Buckley, Shane Conlon and Barry Hanratty are solid defensively and capable of getting forward to support their attack.

James McElroy has been ever present for Monaghan in midfield throughout the league and championship and he kicked a long range point against Down to draw Monaghan level in the closing stages of their semi-final. He is the main man goalkeeper Conor Forde will look to from kick outs to win midfield possession. He was partnered at midfield against Down and Antrim by Clontibret’s Brian Greenan. Greenan lined also lined out at midfield last year against Tyrone in the minor championship.

Against Down their two corner backs Ryan Wylie and Fergal Malone dealt well with the threat of the dangerous Down corner forwards. Highly regarded Down corner forward Jack Haughey was replaced in the second half and the early problems posed by full forward Tom Grimley were dealt with effectively by the Monaghan rear-guard in the second half. Monaghan will hope that they are capable of stopping a highly rated, free scoring Tyrone full forward line in similar fashion in the Ulster Final. This game has all the hallmarks of a classic and although Monaghan are very much the underdogs it would not come as any great surprise within the Farney county if they were to defeat Tyrone and bridge the sixty seven year gap since they last won an Ulster Minor title.



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