Former Fermanagh manager Malachy O’Rourke will get an opportunity to make an in-depth appraisal of Jim McGuinness’s much-changed side when they face his native county at Brewster Park, Enniskillen tonight.
New Monaghan boss O’Rourke has his sights firmly fixed on his team’s confrontation with Donegal in Ballybofey on Sunday where he hopes they can chalk up a second win in the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup having overcome St Mary’s University College on Sunday.
But while O’Rourke would welcome any progress which Monaghan might make in the season’s preliminary tournament, he makes no secret of what he sees as his priority.
“We would love to think that we could find a few new players whom we could add to the squad for the league,” said O’Rourke.
“That is extremely important. For lads who have been there already, it is a matter of stoking the fire so that they are ready for the challenges ahead.
“It’s also about giving everyone some game time and building an understanding among the lads of the way in which we want them to play the game and what we want them to do in certain situations.”
O’Rourke has freshened up the Monaghan attack although Conor McManus still remains the prime source of scores.
He landed five points, including two frees, in the win over St Mary’s last Sunday, but O’Rourke will now be looking for a better spread of scorers against Donegal.
“We need to improve but we know what we are aiming at. It’s important that we take our chances,” he said.
“We can’t expect to do everything well at this stage of the season.
“Indeed, we don’t want to be firing on all cylinders quite yet.”
Monaghan face a daunting mission in Division Three of the league given that there is a deep yearning within the county to see the team return to Division Two after successive demotions.
“The league will be very important for us,” said O’Rourke.
“It’s important to get points in the bag early so that you can enter the promotion race.
“Having made the drop for two seasons running Monaghan don’t want to endure this ignominy again.”
Following the game against Donegal, Monaghan are scheduled to meet UUJ and O’Rourke is hopeful that by then his team will have their sights on a semi-final place.
“That would be a bonus but we will just take each match as it comes,” said the Farney county boss.
“We know we need to improve. We played some fairly decent football in the first-half against St Mary’s last Sunday but that would be unlikely to prove sufficient against Donegal.
“Even though several of their automatic choices will be missing they will have boys in there hungry to grab regular places in the side.”