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10th Aug 2018

Monaghan primed and ready to make final, despite what history may tell you

Michael Corry

Excitement is building ahead of this weekend’s All-Ireland semi-finals where the top four teams in the country will face off at Croke Park for a place in this years final.

On Saturday, All-Ireland champions Dublin take on Galway. Following this, is the eagerly anticipated clash between Tyrone and Monaghan on Sunday.

The Ulster rivals will battle it out in order to represent the province on All-Ireland final day, with many predicting that recent history between the two sides points towards a Red Hand victory.

Earlier this week, Malachy O’Rourke shut down critics who claimed that Tyrone are Monaghan’s bogey team. The Fermanagh native argued that the Farney men’s record against Tyrone whilst he has been in charge directly undermines this notion.

With that, I decided to dissect whether or not Tyrone are in fact a bogey team for Monaghan.

So, how do these current sides match up against each other in the championship? Does recent history point to a Tyrone victory? Or can Monaghan step up when it matters in Croke Park?

Bogey team?

To debunk the bogey team myth we have to delve into the archives and figure out how these teams have fared against each other in recent years. If we go back as far as 2013 the records show that the Ulster rivals have come head to head on four occasions in the championship.

The four results are as followed:

  • 2013 All-Ireland QF: Tyrone 0-14 v 0-12 Monaghan
  • 2014 Ulster SFC QF: Monaghan 1-12 v 0-14 Tyrone
  • 2015 All-Ireland QF: Tyrone 0-18 v 0-14 Monaghan
  • 2018 Ulster SFC QF: Monaghan 1-18 v 1-16 Tyrone

The two sides have met in four quarter finals since 2013. Two of those coming in Ulster, which Monaghan both won, whilst the other two took place in the All-Ireland series, which Tyrone won.

A 50/50 split over their last number of meetings suggests that picking the winner of this game may come down to the toss of a coin. However, the one thing that stands out is that both Tyrone’s victories occurred in Croke Park, the same venue for their first ever semi final meeting this weekend.

Now, we can see where this bogey team angle may have come from.

It’s not that Tyrone have a superior record over this Monaghan team. It is that Tyrone have a superior record over this Monaghan team in Croke Park, and that is something to be concerned about if you are a Monaghan supporter.

Controversy

Of course those two games will always be remembered for the controversy that ensued following them. In 2013 a nerve jangling quarter final was approaching the final whistle, Monaghan were two points down and needed a goal. They turned to star player Conor McManus in search of it.

As he bore down on goal Tyrone legend Sean Cavanagh pulled off what can only be described as a textbook rugby tackle to prevent the Clontibret man from scoring.

Cavanagh took his yellow card, prevented the goal and Tyrone won by two. The events led to this famous outburst from Sunday Game analyst Joe Brolly, an outburst that many believe led to the introduction of the black card.

When the sides met again at the same stage in 2015 controversy followed once more as a tense match ended with three red cards and a four point victory for Tyrone.

It was this incident in particular though involving Darren Hughes and Tiernan McCann that Gaels all over the country vying for blood. McCann was subsequently banned for eight weeks and ironically, Joe Brolly was the man defending Tyrone on that occasion. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3Aqyr433a4

So history dictates that when these two sides meet in Croke Park, not only does Tyrone win but a dark cloud seems to follow them with it.

However, this does not conclusively prove to me that Tyrone are Monaghan’s bogey team. Maybe it’s Croke Park that is the Farney men’s Achilles heel.

Croke Park hoodoo

Including this year, Monaghan have played at least one championship game at headquarters dating back to 2013. The one exception being 2016 when they were dumped out in the qualifiers by Longford in what was the shock of the season.

Monaghan’s championship record at Croke Park since 2013:

  • 2013: LOSS v Tyrone
  • 2014: LOSS v Dublin
  • 2015: LOSS v Tyrone
  • 2017: WON v Down
  • 2017: LOSS v Dublin
  • 2018: WON v Kildare

The Farney county’s record at the home of GAA has been ‘salty’ if not anything over the past number of years. Six games have resulted in two wins and four losses. This gives them a 33% success rate at Croke Park.

It is important to highlight that the two victories they have picked up in HQ both occurred within the last year, a qualifier win against Down and a super 8 series victory over Kildare last month.

Those recent victories would suggest that if there was some sort of Croke Park fear hanging over them, then that may have been put to bed. On top of this we must not forget, they also beat Dublin in Croker earlier this year. It was a league game, but psychologically this will have been huge.

Also, those losses in 2013 & 2015 respectively where against a Monaghan side and Malachy O’Rourke who maybe weren’t quite primed and ready for the challenge or the pressure cooker that is Croke Park.

As opposed to Tyrone and Mickey Harte who have regularly played, and won at the Jones’ Road venue.

When it is all said and done, I firmly believe that this Monaghan team are now primed and are now ready to have a real go at making an All-Ireland final.

The time is now for McManus, for Walshe, for Beggan, and for the Wylie’s to imprint their names in Monaghan folklore, and book a first All-Ireland decider since 1930.

Monaghan to win by two points.

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