We are not feeling the pressure, insists Monaghan boss O'Rourke
Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke has insisted that his team are now mature enough to live with the favourites' tag as they prepare for Down coming to St Tiernach's Park.
The Ulster champions are warm favourites this weekend but have in the past struggled in games they were fancied to win.
"Players are only human at the end of the day and it is only human nature if people keep saying to you that Down are this and that and that they are not going to win - some of that sticks," the St Joseph's College teacher said.
"Players have to be mentally prepared so that they don't let that affect them so that they filter that information, focus on their own jobs and don't let things like that affect them.
"The one thing is that the boys are very experienced at this stage and they have come through a lot of this sort of thing before and we would hope that would stand to them as well.
"All those things will help Down's preparation as well as knowing the last time they played Monaghan in the championship they beat them as well."
He also warned: "There is a confidence about Down football because of their history and they are masters at coming under the radar and producing big performances."
Meanwhile, All-Ireland champions Dublin are preparing for their first Championship game outside of Croke Park since they got past Longford in Pearse Park in 2006.
They take on Laois in Kilkenny's Nowlan Park this evening with a 7pm throw-in. Michael Darragh Macauley and Kevin McManamon have been handed starts while Davy Byrne and John Small will deputise for Rory O'Carroll and Jack McCaffrey, who are on breaks.
The other big game of note this weekend is the Munster hurling meeting of Clare and Waterford in Semple Stadium, tomorrow, at 4pm.
Westmeath clash with Galway, while there is a distinct midlands flavour of the Offaly Laois tie in the Leinster hurling Championship.