Saturday 24 February 2018

Monaghan counting cost of star man Hughes' freak injury

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

MONAGHAN boss Eamonn McEneaney accepts that Darren Hughes is a massive loss for Sunday's Ulster SFC quarter-final against Antrim.

"We honestly don't know how long he will be out," he said of his captain's freakish injury which saw some muscles in his right thigh start turning into bone after two consecutive dead legs in the same spot in recent weeks.

Hughes' injury is similar to that suffered by Irish soccer star John O'Shea, and the Scotstown ace has been told to take four weeks' complete rest in a bid to stop the calcification process.

"However long Darren is out, he will be a huge loss to us," McEneaney acknowledged. "He can play any position from full-back to half-forward and is particularly versatile. He's also our captain and the type of guy who does all his talking on the pitch, so this is a blow."

The Farney men could also be without two more key men, midfielder Owen Lennon and attacker Tommy Freeman, both of whom McEneaney described as "very doubtful".

Freeman, who came home from America this year, tweaked his hamstring recently, while Lennon is recovering after partially dislocating his ankle ago in a challenge match against Armagh.

Conor McManus is back in contention after recovering from hip surgery, and Vinny Corey and Dessie Mone have both also recovered full fitness.

Meanwhile, Westmeath's David Glennon suffered no serious damage despite a head injury scare in last Sunday's Leinster SFC defeat by Louth. The Lake County full-forward was stretchered off in a spinal brace after an eight-minute break in Navan and taken to hospital, but he was released later that night.

Down footballers, already hit by the injury loss of Benny Coulter, were relieved to get Danny Hughes back into action last weekend ahead of their Ulster quarter-final against Fermanagh on June 3.

The former All Star half-forward returned from his hamstring lay-off to score the Mourne men's opening goal in their 5-7 to 1-11 defeat of Fermanagh in a challenge match to open new facilities in Lurgan.

Lar Corbett is not expected to be ready to start next Sunday's Munster SHC opener against Limerick but it's looking like that Tipperary half-forward Patrick 'Bonner' Maher will.

The half-forward star was among Tipperary's starters in a behind-closed-doors challenge match against Wexford last Thursday. Maher missed the league campaign after damaging knee cartilage in the Waterford Crystal Cup and has only got one club game under his belt since.

But like Eoin Kelly, he was among the first 15 for Tipp's final preparatory match, which saw Shane McGrath and Brendan Maher start in midfield and John O'Keefe among the half-backs.

Tipp's footballers have been hit with the loss of Brian Mulvihill and Conor Sweeney for Sunday's clash with Kerry due to injury.

Irish Independent

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