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Monaghan looking to build on Dublin delight with a result against Rossies

 

Homecoming: Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh will host Clare in Newry
Homecoming: Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh will host Clare in Newry
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

If you wish to make a target for your back, the best way to do so is to beat the best in the game.

So it was for Monaghan, who gave hope to all other teams out there by reinforcing the suspicion that Dublin are vulnerable under a high ball and, when they are not in the ultra-familiar confines of Croke Park, a little shaky.

Malachy O'Rourke's men realise that all the heroics of last weekend count for little if they do not back it up with a result away to Roscommon this Sunday.

As bad as the conditions were last weekend, it is clear to see from their loss to Mayo what Roscommon are planning in the first year of former Galway hurling manager Anthony Cunningham's time with the county.

While previous incumbent Kevin McStay always pledged to play a certain way, a few heavy tankings in the Super8s series, most especially against Tyrone, taught him that there will always be a ceiling for a team without a highly sophisticated defensive structure.

Cavan fell to Galway on their first day out in the league, new manager Mickey Graham bemoaning their lack of discipline - Cavan being reduced to twelve men on the pitch with three black cards at one stage.

Hosting Kerry in Kingspan Breffni should ensure a big crowd, but the football will be ultra-modern with new Kingdom manager Peter Keane showing that Kerry are going to be pragmatic and organised in holding Tyrone the opening 50 minutes without a score from play in their league opener.

In Division Two, Armagh are staging their rather novel 'home but not home' league game, as punishment for breaking the GAA's ban on training camps during what should have been left as the club-only month of April.

Instead of getting to host this game in the Athletic Grounds, the fixture makers have placed this in Newry. The peculiar thing is that some of the Pairc Esler ground is actually in Armagh territory. Matter of fact, Newry is a much easier town to get to for the heartland of football support in south Armagh.

They are hosting Clare, a side who they managed to get past in last year's qualifiers after putting together a superb finish to the game in blistering conditions.

Kieran McGeeney will have been disappointed to have taken just a point out of Newbridge last weekend when they faced his old side Kildare.

Although this is not a 'home' game in the strictest sense of the word, it is worth bearing in mind that since taking charge, McGeeney's side have lost just three of their eleven home league games. They have also turned a couple of draws into wins with the final play in some of those games.

Clare, under long-term manager Colm Collins, will come organised and motivated, but if David Tubridy in attack and midfielder Gary Brennan can be neutralised, then Armagh would be well on the way to getting a positive result here.

After hosting Cork last Sunday, Fermanagh have to do a bit of long-distance travelling themselves to Semple Stadium to take on Tipperary on Sunday.

After earning a draw against the Rebels, Rory Gallagher's men really need to be banking something out of this game.

Tipperary were disappointing the last day out, losing at home to Meath on a scoreline of 1-8 to 0-15.

The larger Semple Stadium pitch will make it difficult for Fermanagh to play their counter-attacking game, but they are acutely aware of the threats that Tipperary have, not least Conor Sweeney who scored 1-3 last week all from the dead ball.

After creating 22 scoring chances last weekend against Cork, a bit more composure from the Erne men could earn them something for their travels.

The side most likely to win promotion from the second tier have their first home game this weekend, Donegal hosting Meath in Ballybofey, a venue where they went eight years without defeat in league or Championship before Tyrone's triumph in the Super8s last summer.

They opened their season last weekend with a three point win over Clare and, without veterans Michael Murphy, Frank McGlynn and their ever-growing Gaoth Dobhair contingent, they will improve as the year goes on.

Meath have got off to a decent start with their opening day win over Tipperary and will largely mirror the Donegal shape when they lose possession.

Armagh

Donegal

Dr McKenna Cup semi-final:

Healy Park, Sunday, 2.00pm

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