Thursday 30 March 2017

Farney hope Portugal trip will fix blip

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke has taken his players on a five day training trip to Portugal ahead of next Sunday's Allianz League semi-final against Dublin in Croke Park
Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke has taken his players on a five day training trip to Portugal ahead of next Sunday's Allianz League semi-final against Dublin in Croke Park
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Monaghan footballers flew out to Portugal yesterday for a five-day training trip which they hope will help iron out some glitches before next Sunday's Allianz League semi-final in Croke Park against Dublin.

After losing to Jim Gavin's men by 11 points in Division 1's final group game last weekend, Monaghan are in need of a drastic improvement ahead of the big rematch.

The team will fly back in late on Friday in a pre-planned trip that is similar to the foreign training camp that Donegal organised this time last year, when they also went to the same location for an intensive training camp ahead of meeting Monaghan in the Division 2 final.

There was more than a touch of deja-vu last Sunday as Dublin also defeated Monaghan heavily in the All-Ireland quarter-finals last summer, when the cruciate injury to Colin Walshe proved a big turning point.

The sides were level at the time with Walshe in outstanding form but - though he finished out the game - Dublin got two quick goals soon after his injury. Walshe was togged out and among Monaghan's subs in Clones last Sunday but there is no question of him coming back yet, according to manager Malachy O'Rourke.

"He's back training with us but he hasn't played any football really yet," O'Rourke said. "We'd be hoping you'll see him playing club football over the next three or four weeks and see how he goes after that."

Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan believes they will be able to use this week's intensive training block to "put a few things right."

Beggan is one of the best dead-ball kickers in the country but found his kick-outs under early pressure and is expecting more of the same again this weekend.

"Dublin don't really go defensive for kick-outs and allow you short ones," he said. "They hit us for 1-2 before we could really settle and it might have put us back a wee bit but look, we're in a semi-final, which we were aiming for."

Given that they have an Ulster Championship date with Cavan on May 24, Monaghan are particularly happy for their league run to continue as long as possible and especially against such high-quality opposition.

They had only conceded an average of 1-10 in the league but Dublin hit them with 1-22 (1-17 from play) and put them on the back-foot right from throw-in.

They had no answer for their speedy counter-attack and the Dubs also produced some brilliant long-range shooting to foil Monaghan's well-practised blanket defence and Beggan admitted his team-mates will have to tighten up their marking.

"You can't really give them that space because they will kick it over the bar," he said. "Dublin are known for punishing teams and we got punished for stupid mistakes.

"We want to put it right next week and we know what we have to do to do that. It's just about getting it done really."

Irish Independent

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