Monaghan’s preparations for Sunday’s Ulster SFC semi-final against Fermanagh have been hit by the news that defender Drew Wylie has suffered a season-ending cruciate knee ligament injury.
Monaghan are in the fortunate position of having All Star defender Colin Walshe fully fit again after his own ACL injury and ready to step in and replace Wylie.
Walshe for Wylie is the only change Malachy O’Rourke has made to his starting side from their win over Cavan.
O’Rourke has named the same midfield that started that game. Neil McAdam and Darren Hughes, but highly experienced duo Owen Lennon and Dick Clerkin are both fit and ready to come in if needs be.
Fermanagh have been making solid progress under two-time All-Ireland winning manager Pete McGrath, and victory for them this weekend would be a massive boost.
Their last Ulster final appearance was in 2008, when they lost to Armagh after a replay.
Both Cavan and Antrim are in qualifier action today (Saturday) with Cavan travelling to face London and Antrim facing Laois.
Antrim were, as expected, beaten by Fermanagh in their Ulster quarter-final. Manager Frank Fitzsimons is working without several players who were key to some good performances last year, so it hasn’t been the most straightforward of seasons.
Cavan boss Terry Hyland can welcome Killian Clarke back into action on Saturday. Clarke missed much of the League and the Ulster quarter-final loss to Monaghan a few weeks ago.
“We haven’t had him since the middle of the League – he might be a wee bit rusty football-wise but he played a couple of challenge matches in the last couple of weeks and played with his club so he should be fit to play some part,” noted Hyland.
All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 1A: London v Cavan; Laois v Antrim
Ulster SFC semi-final: Monaghan v Fermanagh, Breffni Park, 4pm