Monaghan in great shape for challenges to come
Ryan Porter, acknowledged as one of the province’s best team trainers, is hoping to achieve the same level of success with Monaghan as he has attained with Tyrone champions Dromore.
The Strabane District Council officer proved an inspirational force in Dromore’s recent domination of the O’Neill County championship through his innovative training methods and emphasis on conditioning.
Along with manager Paul McIver, son of new Derry boss Brian, he formed a solid partnership that projected Dromore into the spotlight and kept them there.
Now he is optimistic that Monaghan, a side that have flattered to deceive in recent years, can turn the corner under Malachy O’Rourke.
In his role as trainer, Porter — a busy father of two sets of twins — has been charged with bringing the squad to a new level of fitness.
Monaghan begin their Power NI Dr McKenna Cup campaign against St Mary’s University College at St Tiernach’s Park in Clones on Sunday.
Monaghan boss O’Rourke has selected a side that embraces youth and experience. Dick Clerkin and Neil McAdam pair up in midfield while Clontibret's Conor McManus lines out at full forward with Donaghmoyne's Padraig Donaghy and Dermot Malone of Castleblayney Faughs on either side.
Fintan Kelly, Stephen Smith, Paul McArdle and Donaghy all make McKenna Cup debuts. Paul Finlay will sit out the competition.
“The players have been working very hard under Ryan Porter and they know what is expected from them,” says O’Rourke.
“We have a couple of home games which is a big help and, with a bit of support from the fans, we might be able to make a pitch for the semi-finals.”
Meanwhile, Down manager James McCartan may give further game time to Danny Savage and Ryan McKenna against Cavan at Breffni Park on Sunday.
Monaghan: R Beggan; D Mone, F Kelly, K Duffy; M McElroy, D Hughes, C O'Connell; D Clerkin, N McAdam; S Smith, P McArdle, O Duffy; P Donaghy, C McManus, D Malone.