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'Whoever loses, basically, is relegated' - Monaghan star on pressure of Saturday's clash

Conor McManus knows the importance of his team’s derby against Cavan

Monaghan star Conor McManus.
Monaghan star Conor McManus.
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO

MONAGHAN’S LAST LEAGUE or championship defeat to Cavan may have come six years ago, but All-Star forward Conor McManus insists that there will be little to separate the Ulster neighbours at Clones on Saturday.

Both teams sit in the Division One relegation zone ahead of the penultimate round of matches, having claimed just one win apiece from their five outings.

The Farneymen recorded their sole triumph against All-Ireland champions Dublin on the opening day before suffering a dip in form to lose four in a row, leaving McManus to predict that this weekend’s showdown will be decisive for the loser.

“There’s no doubt that both teams are coming to Clones on Saturday knowing the state of play and what’s at stake,” McManus told the42.

“Whoever loses, basically, is relegated; whoever wins has a fighting chance of staying up. Both teams are well aware of that and I’m sure it’ll add to the game and the occasion.

Dean Rock with Ryan Wylie Monaghan's Ryan Wylie holds off Dean Rock of Dublin during the Farneymen's only league win this season. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“Form, history and past meetings tend to go out the window when the Cavan/Monaghan games come up. If you look back over the results this past six or seven years, there’s only ever been a point or two in it and that, I’m sure, will be the case this weekend for whoever comes out on the right side of it.”

The Clontibret man is at a loss to reason his team’s slump in form considering the hype that surrounded their defeat of the Dubs. Plenty had installed Malachy O’Rourke’s side firmly in the All-Ireland reckoning in the aftermath.

Narrow subsequent reverses to Galway, Roscommon and, most recently, Kerry has seen their credentials take a bashing, though, even if, McManus admits, there were positives in the Killarney loss of a fortnight ago.

“It’s hard to put your finger on it [dip in form]. The reality of it is that when you’re in Division One and not performing to your best, you will get it hard and that’s just where we’re at.

“Last year we won a couple of games by a point and things were looking great and people talking about how well we were going. Fast forward a year and we’ve lost a couple of those games by a point or two and you’re being told how poor you’re going.

“There is a very fine line, but it’s important not to get too caught up on it either way. We just need to focus on getting the performances because it’s all you can control.

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Dessie Mone, Vincent Corey and Conor McCarthy dejected Monaghan players trudge off the pitch after defeat to Kerry in Killarney. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We showed some resemblance of where we can get to [against Kerry]. We know there are still improvements to be made from the Kerry game. We only played for 45 or 50 minutes and didn’t finish it out, but it was considerably better than what we had put in in the previous couple of weeks.

“That’s what the league is about, building your performance and trying to improve it all the time.”

The Clones factor, he hopes, will sway the derby his team’s way. That would give them an opportunity to salvage their top-flight status away to Mayo on Sunday week.

“It’s about being in this division and that’s the standard of football you want to be playing week-in, week-out. You want to compete against the best no matter what it’s in.”

Bernard Jackman joins Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey on The42 Rugby Weekly as Ireland bid to spoil Wales’ Grand Slam party in Cardiff, and the U20s target their own piece of history.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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