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O’Rourke absent a number of key men for Monaghan opener

Monaghan’s Kieran Hughes is unavailable against Mayo due to holiday commitments

FAST starts have been a ever-present from Malachy O’Rourke’s side since they moved to Division One for the 2015 season, and they have helped pave the way to two top-four finishes in that time.

Sunday’s opponents Mayo, meanwhile, are notoriously slow out of the blocks and have lost four of their last five league openers.

It all points in the direction of a win for the Oriel men at Clones on Sunday, but O’Rourke has attached a caveat to that assumption.

“A win in the first round helps to take the pressure off straight away,” he said.

“Having said that, with so many of our experienced players missing for this game, it might not just be as easy as that.

“We are missing a lot of those experienced heads and obviously that’s not ideal when you’re looking for a good start.

“The important thing is to try and learn from every match, whether that’s a win or a loss, and become better as the weeks go on.”

Out for the visit of the 2017 and 2016 All-Ireland finalists are Kieran Hughes (holiday), Gavin Doogan (injury) while Drew Wylie, Darren Hughes, Colin Walshe and Conor McManus may not be risked either.

Dessie Mone, Dermot Malone and Vinny Corey were late rejoining the squad this year and will also not be involved.

The full inteview with Malachy O’Rourke is available in store today or online here.

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