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Darren Hughes refuses to dwell on final performance

By Declan Bogue

The Monaghan team were typically honest with themselves in the dressing room after the Ulster final loss to Donegal. No matter how tempting it might seem in the wake of a disappointing defeat, they would refuse to get involved in listing excuses, even though they are in plentiful supply.

They have a round four qualifier on Saturday week against Kildare, and already they have begun the process of flushing the Ulster final loss out of their system.

"Ultimately, the bottom line is we didn't perform to our expectations," said Darren Hughes.

"Donegal were the better team and deserved it. We make no excuses about our performances.

"We have to look back on it and build on it towards the next game. We are in the All-Ireland series now. There is no point in dwelling over Sunday. You have to move on and look towards Kildare now."

Monaghan were seeking to defend an Ulster title for the first time since 1930, but the powerhouse midfielder from Scotstown feels that the weight of expectation was not a decisive factor in coming up short.

"2013 was put to bed at the start of the year and it's not something we talked about too often," he noted.

"Donegal would have had revenge on their mind and they played the type of game we would have liked to have played and we just didn't perform on the day."

He continued: "Back to back and all that stuff wouldn't be mentioned. It was another game and another Ulster final. We prepared for it as best possible and we just didn't show up on the day.

"We knew Donegal had to try something different. We got them in the league final this year and the Ulster final last year and we had to expect the unexpected.

"We make no excuses about it, they were better when they got the ball in the final third and they had us well sussed out.

"Too many attacks broke down, they got us on the counter and got easy scores on the board."

The last time Monaghan played Kildare in Championship football, they had also just lost an Ulster final to Tyrone. However, the restructuring of the qualifiers now means that they have 13 days recovery instead of the six days that caught them out in 2010.

"Any game you play, win or lose, you need a recovery period," said Hughes. "They have a bit of momentum now."

The Round Four football Qualifiers have been fixed by the Competition Controls Committee. Armagh will face Meath on Saturday, August 2 with a 5pm throw-in, while Monaghan will play Kildare at 7pm as the headliner of the double-header.

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