Sport Gaelic Football

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Freeman returns for Farney's Kingdom showdown

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

MONAGHAN, who face Kerry in a huge relegation battle in the final round of the national league next Sunday, will be boosted this week by the return of the versatile Damien Freeman.

Freeman had lined out in the first two rounds of the league but had then taken a break.

But manager Seamus McEnaney confirmed yesterday that the Maheracloone star, who can play on either '45, is returning to training tonight, which provides a timely boost as Monaghan attempt to beard the Kingdom in their own den in a game that will decide their fate for next season.

Calculators could yet be working overtime on Sunday as Kerry, Monaghan and Tyrone are all desperately scrambling to avoid the drop. They are in a three-way tie for the second relegation position in Division 1, two points clear of Derry.

Yet, McEnaney said working out the complicated permutations that decide who drops down to Division 2 holds no interest for him as Monaghan have only one thing in their mind.

"The scenario for us is very simple, our destiny is in our own hands," McEnaney said. "Whoever wins our game is safe, so beating Kerry is the only thing we are thinking about, simple as that."

If Monaghan did end up in a two-way tie with Tyrone, the Farney men would have the upper hand under the new 'head-to-head rule', as they have already beaten the 2008 All-Ireland champions.

If they lose to Kerry, and Tyrone beat Dublin, they will be relegated but a draw in their own game, and victory for Mickey Harte's men, would leave their fate decided by points difference, so everything is balanced on a knife-edge.

Even though Monaghan have never beaten Kerry in their three meetings during McEnaney's reign, he is relishing the prospect and will bring his team down to Killarney on Saturday.

"It's a fantastic scenario, to be having a championship-like game at this stage of the season," he said. "We've played Kerry three times in my time (as manager). They beat us by a point in Scotstown in 2006, they beat us by a point in Croke Park in 2007 and they beat us by three in 2008.

"If you want to be competing with the best then Kerry are going to be there, standing in your way. That is the challenge in front of us and one we will relish."

Kerry are just back from a five-day warm-weather training camp in Portugal and will definitely be without Aidan O'Mahony who was red-carded in their last game, but Tomas O Se is expected to be fit despite a recent injury scare.

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