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Connolly has the chance of a lifetime at Blackburn Rovers

By John Campbell

Mark Connolly is hoping to make an impact in the forthcoming Ulster Minor Football League with Monaghan.

And he's equally keen to create a big impression when he links up with Premiership side Blackburn Rovers in the not too distant future.

A former Clones and Monaghan minor player, Jonathan Douglas, took a similar route some years back and is now a full time professional with Leeds Utd and is a current member of the Ireland squad.

Connolly has been watched by Blackburn scouts who have been impressed with his skill levels and attitude and it would appear that a full-time career in top-flight soccer could be in the offing.

Connolly is one of a plethora of young players in whom Monaghan will be placing their faith for the Minor League which was won last year by Donegal.

Following a series of trial games and other activities over the last six weeks Monaghan manager Bernie Murray, who formerly played with distinction at senior level for the county, has named a training panel of 36 players who will be getting down to business immediately.

Eighteen clubs in all are represented on this initial panel. Monaghan Harps lead the way with seven representatives, Scotstown are next with five, Cremartin and Castleblayney have three each while four clubs, Donaghmoyne, Drumhowan, Oram and Tyholland have two each. Eleven clubs have one representative each.

Goalkeeper Ciaran Boyce from the Tyholland club is the current custodian with St. Colman's College, Newry, while Stephen McBride from the Oram club is a grandson of legendary country singer Big Tom McBride.

The panel will have its first get meeting at Cloghan (7.00)at 7.00pm and then on Saturday next the players will travel to Dublin City University for a day-long session under the tutelage of Dr Niall Moyna and Declan Brennan.

The panel will train twice weekly, on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings in Cloghan. Monaghan's first game in the Ulster Minor Football League is at home against Armagh on March 10.

The panel will have its first get together on this Wednesday evening January 3 in Cloghan at 7.00pm. Players need not bring any gear to this session as it is a familiarisation and information meeting only.

On Saturday next, January 6th the panel will travel to DCU in Dublin for a day long session under the tutelage of Dr. Niall Moyna and Declan Brennan.

The panel will train twice weekly, on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings in Cloghan. Monaghan's first game in the Ulster minor football league is at home against Armagh on March 10th.

Ciaran Boyce, Brian McArdle (Tyholland), David Miller, Kevin Mooney (Drumhowan), Stephen McBride, Turlough Fitzsimons (Oram), Christopher Deery, John Farrell (Donaghmoyne), Cathal Atkinson, Liam McVicar, Declan Farrell (Cremartin), Chris Callan, Paraic McNally, Keith Hill (C'Blayney), Dermot Malone (Blackhill), Gerry McArdle (Inniskeen), Gary Feely (Truagh), Ciaran Connolly (Emyvale), Mark McBride (Eire Og), Mark Connolly (Clones), David Marron (Carrickmacross), Colm Greenan (Clontibret), Matthew O'Reilly (Toome), Philip O'Callaghan (Currin), Mark McDevitt, Daniel McNally, Niall McKenna, William Carroll, Ciaran Hughes (Scotstown), Emmet McArdle, Gareth Treanor, Conor Galligan, Gary White, David Hughes, Donal Hahessy, Nicholas Scott (Monaghan Harps).

Belfast Telegraph

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