Monaghan's Hughes out to exorcise final demons
Darren Hughes treasures the Sigerson Cup medal which he won with UUJ in 2008 when he was a dynamic influence within one of the best sides to have represented the Jordanstown seat of learning.
But this weekend he will embark once again on a journey which he hopes will take him to the prize he craves - an Ulster championship medal.
One of the most versatile players in the province, he will help shore up the Monaghan defence for the provincial quarter-final tie against Tyrone in Omagh on Sunday.
Last year Hughes played in three different positions for his county including the unusual role of goalkeeper en-route to the Ulster final only to encounter a red-hot Tyrone side there that left them in ruins.
The bitter taste of that defeat has remained with Hughes.
"It was a gut-wrenching experience for us because we let ourselves down," he recalls.
Now there is a fresh determination within the Monaghan squad and Hughes is just keen to snap up a starting place for Healy Park.
"Although I have played in a few positions, I prefer to be stationed at centre-half-back. It's possible to be more involved in the game there, you can exercise some degree of control and you also get the chance to go forward which is something that I enjoy," says Hughes.
He admits that going in against what he believes to be "a very hungry Tyrone" will be a big test for Monaghan.
"We have tried and failed against them on numerous occasions so we certainly know what to expect. This match gives us another crack at them and we hope to get on better than we did last year," says Hughes.
Hughes feels the fact that Monaghan are being written off "in some quarters of the media" could provide them with an incentive to rise to the occasion in style.
"Tyrone have basically the same squad of players that they have had for several years now and obviously they have vast experience and will be favourites. But we have to have belief in our own ability," points out Hughes.