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Kelly's real goal is to see Monaghan join the elite

Net gains: Fintan Kelly
Net gains: Fintan Kelly
John Campbell

By John Campbell

The number three has particular resonance for Monaghan defender Fintan Kelly as he prepares to face the might of Dublin's much-vaunted attack in today's All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Croke Park (6.00pm).

On their last three visits to Headquarters for last eight assignments, Malachy O'Rourke's Oriel side tasted nothing only heartbreak.

They were beaten 0-14 to 0-12 by Tyrone in 2013, surrendered rather more tamely to Dublin the following year, 2-22 to 0-11, and then succumbed to Mickey Harte's side again in 2015, 0-18 to 0-14.

But if quarter-final results have not gone Monaghan's way, then for Kelly personally the omens could hardly be better going into today's contest.

In his team's last three qualifier ties against Wexford, Carlow and Down he has scored a goal in each - a major achievement for a player who is ostensibly the right-full-back in the line-up.

The modest Kelly is clearly surprised by his achievement to date but is much more concerned how his team fares against the raging hot favourites to land what would be a third successive All-Ireland crown.

Monaghan have been unable to make it into an All-Ireland final in recent years but today they get a golden opportunity to reveal their best form.

"We need to prove to ourselves we're close to the very top level. We haven't done it in the Championship on the very big days," insists Kelly.

Monaghan: R Beggan; F Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie; C Walshe, K Duffy, K O'Connell; K Hughes, D Hughes; G Doogan, D Malone, S Carey; R McAnespie, D Freeman, C McManus

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