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McKenna Cup Semi-final 2017

Monaghan played Derry in the semi-final of the McKenna Cup in Armagh on January 22nd and this is a game they will likely forget. From the start nothing seemed to be going Monaghan's way - Conor McManus was off target and hitting weak shots towards goal; decisions were going against them, Dessie Mone got injured and had to leave the play even though he was making big inroads on the Derry defence, Kieran Hughes was doing great work around the centre but the forwards were making pooor use of his efforts to get the ball forward, Ryan McAnespie likewise was clearing up in defence and taking the ball forward but again to little avail. At half time they were still there with little between the sides and all hoped for a revival in the second half. It seemed to be coming and players seemed to be settling in to a more confident type of play. scores came but not enough of them even though decision were now coming their way. However they had supporters on the edge of their seats as they were so close and yet so far. When McCarthy got the goal it looked like the game was now going to be taken over by Monaghan but Derry had other ideas and stepped up a gear and returned the score board in their favour to go on to take the spoils. It was a tense finish as power swung from side to side but Derry proved the strongest in the end. I would not be too worried about this defeat as the management seemed to be trying out new players and new positions and new ideas and that has to be done in a competitive match situation to be really useful. There is plenty of talent there but some of it needs consolidation and experience and then get a settled team. Hopefully Dessie's injury is not too serious and that he will be back very soon. Regarding the play - the Mark was not noticed and the black card was used but could have benn used a few times more. I still claim that the rules are not being applied sufficiently to protect players from injury and to make players play open fast football. There is too much pulling and tugging and thumping which is allowed to continue as advantage but it spoils the game and allows frustration and tempers to build up in players, especially those who like to go off on runs and move forward fast. This usually ends in reprisals and it is usually the more innocent player that suffers. Anyhow we now look forward to the League and a Mayo start.

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