Former Armagh and Kildare assistant manager Paul Grimley will make his competitive debut as No 2 to Monaghan boss Seamus McEnaney on Saturday week when the Farney county face UUJ in the opening game in the Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup.
And even though Monaghan will lean on what is one of the smallest squads in the competition, Grimley remains confident that new talent will be unearthed to bolster the more experienced brigade who will return for the National League in February.
“There are a lot of young talented players in Monaghan who will be getting the chance to show want they can do in January. The best way to assess players is in a competitive match environment and given that we must meet UUJ, Fermanagh and Armagh, it can be safely assumed that the players’ credentials will be tested in these games,” points out Grimley.
Yet when he patrols the touchline at Clones on Saturday week, Grimley may have due cause to monitor the performance of one UUJ player in particular in addition to assessing his own team’s resources.
Monaghan’s Darren Hughes has been outstanding in midfield since October for UUJ and he now gets a golden opportunity to replicate this form in front of the Monaghan management team.
“We are aware that Darren has been playing well and certainly he will be observed in this upcoming game,” he said.
Monaghan’s match against Armagh on Wednesday, January 20 under lights at Inniskeen will bring Grimley into confrontation with his native county — indeed, at one point earlier in the year it was thought that he would become manager in succession to Peter McDonnell. But he is not attaching any particular significance to the game.
“Our whole focus is on seeking out new talent to beef up the Monaghan squad and we will face up to whatever teams happen to cross our path,” he said.