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Ulster SFC quarter-final preview: Antrim v Monaghan

Updated: Friday, 07 Jun 2013 14:08 | Comments

Antrim ran Monaghan close in last season's quarter-final
Antrim ran Monaghan close in last season's quarter-final

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By Micil Glennon

Antrim v Monaghan, Casement Park, Sunday 3.30pm

Antrim host Monaghan on Sunday hoping to end a recent losing streak against the Farney County.

Last season, at the same stage, Monaghan won by a goal in Clones.

The sides met as recently as 7 April in the last round of the Allianz League when the Farney County overran the Saffrons 3-16 to 0-13, a result which condemned Antrim to Division 4 football next season.

Saffrons boss Frank Dawson hands provincial Championship debuts to Patrick McBride and Michael Pollock, while former captain Sean Kelly starts at right half-back.

Ahead of the game, he told the Irish News: “We know we're hugely up against it, that everyone in Ulster will say Monaghan are going to win at a stroll - and they're probably thinking that themselves.

"It's hard to get away from the fact that that they've won Division 3, that they've already beaten this team by 12 points, but we're ready for Sunday, I can tell you that."

Monaghan won the Allianz League Division 3 title, beating Meath in the final and will play in the second tier next season.

Rory Beggan and full-back Fintan Kelly make their Championship debuts but former All Star Tommy Freeman, who missed some of the league campaign with a broken jaw, is on the bench.

While they recorded a facile win in the league, forward Conor McManus places no worth in their 12-point victory.

"Some people would say that we defeated Antrim in the Championship last year and we handed them a fairly hefty defeat in the league, so it is really only a matter of turning up at Casement Park,” he said in the Irish News.

“Antrim were not at full strength the day we played them in the league, so I would expect them to be a stronger and more highly-motivated team than they were on that occasion."

Monaghan made it to the semi-final last season where they were beaten by a by point by Down.

Should they progress on Sunday, either Fermanagh or Cavan will stand in their way to a final appearance and that should be extra motivation, if needed, to carry them over the line.

Verdict: Monaghan

Antrim: Chris Kerr; Kevin O’Boyle (c), Ricky Johnston, Andy McClean; Seán Kelly, Justin Crozier, Patrick McBride; Seán McVeigh, Marty Johnston; Anthony Healy, Paddy Cunningham, Mark Sweeney; Michael Pollock, Kevin Niblock, Brendan Herron

Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Kieran Duffy, Fintan Kelly, Colin Walshe; Dessie Mone, Neil McAdam, Darren Hughes; Owen Lennon (c), Dick Clerkin; Paul Finlay, Dermot Malone, Owen Duffy; Christopher McGuinness, Kieran Hughes, Conor McManus.

Highlights and analysis of all the weekend’s action on The Sunday Game from 21:30 on Sunday 9 June on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only).

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