The Dr Mckena Cup is only just over a week away from getting underway for 2017 and already it seems that the preparations have been stepped up in both the Monaghan and Cavan camps ahead of the early season competition and the National Football League commencing in February.
One of the big championship shocks of 2016 was when Longford knocked out Monaghan from the football qualifiers in clones and that defeat could well be a source of motivation for the Farney County in 2017.
Monaghan netmindder Rory Beggan says he and his team mates will be keen to atone for that shock championship exit at the hands of Denis Connerton’s side.
There had been speculation as to whether manager Malachy O’Rourke would remain in charge with the Ulster side in the aftermatch off that loss, but his first choice netminder believes that the Fermanagh native is still the man to guide Monaghan on to further glory.
“What Malachy has achieved with us over the last four years has been brilliant,” Beggan told The Irish News.
“For the couple of weeks after the Longford defeat we didn’t know whether he was going to stay on or not. But once the news eventually came that he was staying on it was relief for us.
“It wasn’t his fault the way we played last year against Longford. We were the ones that crossed the white line, we were the ones that made the wrong decisions but next year we’re going to be hungrier.
“It’s obviously a massive boost for us that Malachy is staying on because we want to prove people wrong next year and go further than we probably went in 2016.”
One of the teams that Monaghan will be facing in the Allianz Fottball league will be Cavan. They will have a new manager for the upcoming campaign and will start of their first match in the top flight against the All Ireland champions Dublin.
The Breffni defender, Killian Clarke is eagerly looking forward to that encounter and says a shock opening round league win over the double All-Ireland champions would be the perfect way to get their season up and running.
The former All-Star nominee believes that Cavan after winning promotion from Division Two last season are more than capable of delivering that win when they clash with the all-conquering men from the capital at Breffni Park in February.
Cavan begin their Dr McKenna Cup campaign against Tyrone at Breffni Park on Sunday week.
Last year Cavan lost their semi-final against Derry in the Dr McKenna Cup.
In the Ulster championship, they were beaten by Tyrone in a semi-final replay, and were dumped out of Round 3 of the qualifiers by Derry. That defeat brought down th curtain on Terry Hyland’s spell as manager of his native county.
But under new manager Mattie McGleenan, Clarke knows it is essential to hit the ground running, and build momentum prior to their league campaign and clash with the reigning All-Ireland champions.
“Mattie is in there and he is after bringing in a few young lads. But it should be interesting and I’m looking forward to it.
“We have a great opportunity against the Dubs on the first day. We are looking forward to it, everyone in Cavan is looking forward to it. It would definitely be a nice scalp to take so fingers crossed we can do that.”