MONAGHAN chief Seamus McEnaney isn’t especially enamoured with the timing of this year’s U-20 Championship.
The u-21 competition of old was played during the spring, but if things keep going the way they’re going, it won’t be long before it’s run off sometime around Christmas.
McEnaney says that it should be played in tandem with the national league, which would bypass the stipulation that u-20 players can’t play for their senior intercounty team during the championship.
“Speaking from my own experience, I think it would be a good idea if the u-20 championship was run alongside the national football league and if the final was played the same weekend as the league finals.
“I think that’d be a better scenario, therefore the u-20 players would be free to play with their clubs afterwards as well as the senior team for the championship.”
Monaghan haven’t had a particularly good record at this age group in the last decade – their sole Ulster final appearance, in 2016, ended in defeat – and they’re coming off the back of a disappointing regional league campaign.
They played in the Leo Murphy Cup, losing all three matches to Armagh, Down and Meath, so McEnaney says they’ve no option but to improve ahead of their quarter-final encounter against Monaghan.
“There certainly is room for improvement but whether we can improve remains to be seen. Cavan went into the league final unbeaten whereas we were beaten in all our matches. Meath beat us by ten points, we were taught a bit of a lesson in all three games so we really have to learn from that.”
McEnaney led last year’s Monaghan minor team to the All-Ireland semi-final, where they were beaten despite a spirited performance against Kerry. Most of that team will have to wait a year before lining out for the u-20s, however.
“Most of this group belongs to the minor team of two years ago. We played Cavan in Breffni Park in the Ulster Championship and unfortunately for us we were beaten by five points.”
“I had intended on doing another year with the minors but our county chairman Michael Og McMahon asked me to go with the u-20s so here we are.”
And on the challenge of facing a Cavan team which fared extremely well at minor level, reaching the All-Ireland semi-final, McEnaney said:
“John Brady has all his teams well-drilled. They’ve huge experience and he has huge experience. It’s no secret Cavan are hot favourites but we’ll try to perform the best we can.”