Monaghan dynamo Hughes to miss big Fermanagh showdown
Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke may not have quite the injury crisis that his direct Championship opponent Pete McGrath has been hit with, but has confirmed midfield dynamo Darren Hughes will play no part in tomorrow week's opener against Fermanagh in Clones.
Hughes came off in a club game for Scotstown against Clontibret and while there were initial fears of a cruciate ligament injury, that has since been ruled out.
"The signs are good at the minute," revealed the 2013 and 2015 Ulster winning manager.
"He is doing a wee bit of rehab at the minute although it has been very slow. We would be hoping at this stage that he wouldn't have to go through the operation but that might not be certain yet."
No matter how well his recovery is going, he will not line up against O'Rourke's native Fermanagh in the preliminary round.
"It's a non-runner," he explained. "Initially, they talked about a 12-week period for this type of injury, that it would be that sort of time frame.
"I don't see that there is any change in that and at the initial stage we thought it might have been the end of his season. We are delighted about that. Now, it's a case of managing it and hopefully he will be back at some stage."
With the Ulster Championship played over nine weeks this year, and Hughes' injury having occurred almost two months ago, he would be on track to challenge for a place in the Ulster semi-final, should they make it past Fermanagh and Cavan.
Another who is coming strong and could be named in the matchday panel is Dessie Mone, who lost out on a huge chunk of the season having broken a wrist during the Dr McKenna Cup semi-final loss to Derry.
O'Rourke said: "He has been able to do all of the running and the conditioning. He shouldn't be that far away.
"Hopefully he will be in contention for a place in the panel," he added.
"That would be the aim. It might be a wee bit far-fetched but it mightn't be that far away either."
A knee problem for Gavin Doogan may rule him out of Monaghan's clash against their neighbours.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the ongoing stalemate at Stormont has left many Ulster Council coaches in limbo with possible job losses ahead.
With a budget still not established, the funding for up to 30 coaching jobs paid out of the education pot could be cancelled.
At present, the coaches have been placed under 'protective notice' for a 90-day period.