Dessie Mone hails new wave of emerging Monaghan stars
Monaghan laid down an early marker on the opening round of the league, taking a valuable win away from home against Tyrone on Saturday night.
Although they were outsiders heading to Omagh, the result was hardly surprising as the Farney men are well established as one of the most competitive sides around.
However, Saturday night showed a first real glimpse of what talent is coming through the ranks in the county.
This was a less familiar Farney side.
Monaghan started without both of their recent All Stars in captain Conor McManus and Colin Walshe, while another pillar of the side, Vincent Corey, came off the bench. Midfielder Owen Lennon is on the long-term injury list.
Despite those absentees, Monaghan came away from Healy Park with two points, and star defender Dessie Mone insists he wasn't surprised at the promising performances of the likes of Daniel McKenna, Conor Boyle and Ryan McAnespie.
"There are new players coming through there and it was a great opportunity for those young lads to get game-time," said Mone.
"Conor Boyle had a great game. So did Ryan McAnespie. They needed that experience in the McKenna Cup and you have to give those boys a chance. They took that chance.
"I know results didn't go our way (in the McKenna Cup), but they got game-time and to know what it's like to play intercounty football.
"It's never easy to come to Tyrone. I have been playing with Monaghan this last decade and it's never been easy to get a win. Lucky enough we have been turning them over a wee bit, which is good to see.
"You have the minors coming through and the whole team ethos we have at the minute - that's what winning our games. It's a whole team effort."
Mone put in a superb 70 minutes, kicking two excellent points, including one in the first half when Monaghan were struggling for traction.
Having spent much of last year travelling to and from Limerick while he was at college, Mone has secured a teaching job in Largy College in Clones, which he says makes a "massive difference" to his preparations.
Monaghan welcome Cork to Castleblayney on Sunday. The venue has been revamped and Mone is keen to build on their bright start to a difficult looking Division 1.
"Cork are in the top four and they are a big strong team. The game is in Castleblayney and that's great to see," he said.
"I went there to watch Monaghan play their championship football there in the 1990s so it's nice to get a chance to play there in a league match and in a new stadium.
"Hopefully the Monaghan supporters will come out for that one. But it's not going to be an easy task.
"We'll get back to training on Tuesday and we'll assess the situation. It's going to be a different game, probably more physical.
"If you're not 6ft2ins or 6ft3ins you probably don't get in the Cork team so it won't be easy them coming down."