Joe Kernan: Monaghan on verge of Ulster Championship breakthrough
The stranglehold which Armagh and Tyrone have exerted on the Ulster Senior Football Championship for the past decade could be broken next month.
Monaghan have to date, vindicated the belief that a number of shrewd observers had in them from the outset of the competition by charging through to the decider in which they will meet Mickey Harte’s reigning champions on July 18 at what will be a packed St Tiernach’s Park, Clones.
In defeating Armagh and Fermanagh and scoring 1-39 in the process, Monaghan have provided substantial evidence of their maturity, ambition and skill.
Having had their manager Seamus McEnaney as my assistant with the Ulster team, I know full well that his enthusiasm, commitment and energy are such that if silverware were handed out on the basis of these attributes, then the Farney trophy cabinet would be groaning under the weight of prizes.
It has been said that a team must learn how to lose major fixtures before they can fully appreciate the glow of success.
Monaghan have certainly served their apprenticeship in this respect, let it be said. They ran Kerry very close not once but twice in Croke Park and the nucleus of the team that flirted with success on those occasions is still very much in harness.
Martin McElkennon will have the players jumping out of their skins, they will enjoy phenomenal support — after all this is a home match for them — and they will be the beneficiaries of a tidal wave of goodwill.
Make no mistake about it Monaghan are coming up against a confident, highly-motivated Tyrone seeking back-to-back Ulster titles for the first time and in overcoming Antrim and Down to date, have shown the one real element that Monaghan will require on final day — a killer instinct.