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Malachy O'Rourke's Monaghan have point to prove

JBy ohn Campbell

A cursory glance at the Allianz Football League Division Two table will convince Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke just how important victory in his team's mission against Louth tomorrow will be.

With a draw and a win from their three games to date, Monaghan are in that potentially perilous position of flirting with promotion while at the same time dicing with relegation.

With pacesetters Donegal odds-on to heap further misery on Meath and second-placed Down a safe bet to heighten Galway's anxieties, O'Rourke's men simply cannot afford to concede any more ground if they aspire to a place in Division One next term.

Further pressure could be heaped on the Ulster champions, too, should Armagh clip the wings of Laois at the Athletic Grounds.

While obviously aware of the overall scenario, O'Rourke prefers to remain totally focused on his team's build-up to their meeting with a Louth side that slumped alarmingly against Down on Saturday last.

Yet it's the outcome of that particular match which forces O'Rourke's troops to circle the wagons and plot their strategy.

"Louth will feel they have a big point to make. But then so too do we. Donegal were the hungrier team last weekend when we played them and we have had to accept that. We must now try and improve for this match," states O'Rourke.

His decision to omit some of his more experienced hands for the meeting with Jim McGuinness' side could be said to have backfired to some extent but that's purely speculation.

Nonetheless, seasoned campaigners such as Dick Clerkin, Dessie Mone and Vinny Corey made an impact when sprung from the bench and are likely to start against Louth

What is a solid fact is that Monaghan will require to tighten up considerably at the back if they are to come out on top against Aidan O'Rourke's chastened outfit.

Jack McCarron, Conor McManus and would you believe goalkeeper Rory Beggan, so accurate from long-distance frees and '45's', will again shoulder the lion's share of Monaghan's scoring responsibility.

"We allowed Donegal to get an early two-goal cushion on Sunday last and we certainly can't afford to let Louth off the leash.

"Pride will be a big spur for both teams on this occasion," predicts manager O'Rourke.

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