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Cavan stand in way of Walshe's treble chance

John Campbell

Monaghan defender Colin Walshe is in hot pursuit of a hat-trick of honours but acknowledges that he faces what could prove to be one of the toughest challenges of his career this weekend.

The Doohamlet clubman led Dublin IT to Sigerson Cup glory earlier this year and then helped Monaghan gain promotion to Division Two.

Now he has the Ulster Senior Football Championship title very much in his sights although in-form Cavan will form a big barrier in today's semi-final at St Tiernach's Park, Clones.

Walshe (22) is standing by to mark either Martin Dunne or Eugene Keating, the sharpshooting duo who have already played major roles in terminating the Championship ambitions of both Armagh and Fermanagh.

Dunne's nine points against the Ochard county won him the man of the match accolade and followed this up with a crucial late brace against Peter Canavan's side.

Walshe is quick to appreciate the contribution that the duo has made to Cavan's progress.

"When you look at the quality of the scores they have got and their ability to find space you just know they are class players," states Walshe. "While we were very happy to get over Antrim, we knew that we had work to do after that game and we just hope that we have got things right for Saturday. Cavan will be full of confidence."

Walshe's man-marking skills will probably be deployed against Keating who, although perceived as being less of a scoring threat than Dunne, is nonetheless a shrewd creative force while possessing the ability to pump over spectacular long-range points.

If the triumph in the Sigerson Cup afforded Walshe considerable satisfaction and Monaghan's promotion surge proved a bonus, then the prospect of appearing in and perhaps even winning the Ulster final against All-Ireland champions Donegal represents an even more exciting challenge.

"While I was very proud to captain my college to the Sigerson Cup," proclaims Walshe. "We were in the final a few years ago when we were beaten by Tyrone but we feel we could do ourselves more justice this season."

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke admits that his defence will be "fully tested" by the Cavan inside line.

"We played Cavan in the league and they beat us so both teams will be familiar with each other. There will probably be a greater level of intensity in evidence on Saturday, though, given that this is an Ulster Championship semi-final with a lot at stake," says O'Rourke.

Cavan: C Gilsenan; J McLoughlin, R Dunne, K Clarke; J McEnroe, A Clarke, R Flanagan; D O'Reilly, D Givney; C Mackey, J Brady, F Flanagan; N McDermott, M Dunne. E Keating.

Monaghan: R Beggan; D Mone, D Wylie, C Walshe; V Corey, N McAdam, K Duffy; O Lennon, D Hughes; S Gollogly, P Finlay, D Clerkin; C McGuinness, K Hughes, C McManus.

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