Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Biting Back: Monaghan have something up their sleeves

On Saturday night, Monaghan's Christopher McGuinness left the Croke Park dressing rooms, glowing with the achievement of having hit the decisive score to seal the Oriel county's first Championship win in Croke Park in 84 years.

He wore a pair of black shorts and compression trousers - tights, to most of us - but tights which encourage the flow of blood around the arteries. In his right hand, he had a litre of sports drink.

With Dublin less than a full seven days away, recovery had already begun for the Ballybay man. There are those that feel that because Monaghan's win over Kildare was so physically demanding, they will not have a chance against the supremely-athletic Dublin.

But Monaghan have something up their sleeves. Against Kildare, it was noticeable how far up the pitch they tackled. Unlike Donegal who retreat into a defensive arrowhead and defend without putting too much into it, Monaghan pressed high up, like a Gaelic Barcelona.

Commentators love to talk about 'blanket' defences and all that without noting the differences between one defence and another. Monaghan's is different.

The chances are they could play a deep-lying game this Saturday. Before the Ulster final, Monaghan were talked about as a side that could rival Dublin, afterwards, they were roundly written off.

But show me a Monaghan side that has not risen to a challenge yet and I won't believe my eyes. This is possibly one of the biggest games in their history, and as much as they used to leap out of their skin playing Kerry, imagine what it would be like in the dressing room before they meet the Dubs.

Hurry up Saturday!

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