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Monaghan vs Cavan is the opener for what is easily the most competitive of the Provincial Championships. Last year, the same fixture threw up an upset as Cavan prevailed. Now, following the relegation to Division 3, Cavan are underdogs again. But, Monaghan are not exactly carrying form into this game. Hence, it could be an exciting tie to kick off an exciting Championship.
In round 7 of the National League, a draw with Meath was enough to see Monaghan survive in the top Division. In what was an up-and-down League for the Farney men, they will be content as they head into knock-out football. The Meath draw was preceded by a loss to Kerry. But, Seamus McEnaney will have told his side that if they were to lose, that was the time to do so.
2019’s defeat to Cavan in the Ulster Championship will be at the front of McEnaney’s mind. The loss shook the team who went on to lose to Armagh in the qualifiers. Now, he will be relying on his talisman Conor McManus to lead from the front. Thankfully for McEnaney, McManus is finding form at the right time. He scored 1-08 against Meath and 0-05 the week before against Kerry in just 35 minutes.
Cavan need to show mental toughness
On the other hand, Cavan will be wishing they had another week to prepare for this fixture. Last year’s trip to the Ulster final seems like a long time ago now in light of their new Division 3 status. Two losses since the restart will need to be quickly forgotten about by Mickey Graham’s men.
Graham admitted his side “got what we deserved” after failing to get a result against Roscommon. In fact, a win on the day could have seen Cavan finish in the promotion spots. But, Division 2 was the tightest of the four and, true to form, the loss saw Cavan fall to 7th. Graham continued to confess nerves among his team before the game.
If Cavan are to replicate their victory from last season, they need to quickly make peace with their League result. In the Championship there will be no time to wallow in self-pity. In particular, the Ulster Championship will be a gruelling one on its own. Beginning in the preliminary round only adds to the challenge.
Paddy Power rightfully have Monaghan at 3/10 favourites. Cavan are 10/3 and a draw is 8/1. The game is live on Sky Sports.
Monaghan: Rory Beegan, Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle, Ryan Whylie, Dessie Ward, Fintan Kelly, Karl O’Connor, Darren Hughes, Kieran Hughes, Ryan McAnespie, Micheál Bannigan, Dermot Malone, Stephen O’Hanlon, Conor McCarthy, Conor McManus
Cavan: Raymond Galligan, Jason McLoughlin, Killian Clarke, Killian Brady, Gerard Smith, Ciaran Brady, Luke Fortune, James Smith, Padraig Faulkner, Martin Reilly, Gearoid McKernan, Oisin Kieran, Oisin Pierson, Chris Conway, Cormac O’Reilly
Ulster Football Championship Preliminary Round: Monaghan vs Cavan, Saturday, October 31st, 1.15pm (Clones).
— @monaghangaa (@monaghangaa) October 26, 2020