Tyrone and Monaghan come face to face for the fourth time in twelve months this evening in Round Four of the Allianz Football League.
The two sides have struck up somewhat of an intense rivalry over the past number of seasons and with both teams languishing around the bottom of Division One, expect tonight’s encounter to be a spicy affair at the very least.
Monaghan started their league campaign like a house on fire when they toppled Dublin in Clones last month. However, they have taken a step back since then losing to both Roscommon and Galway.
Tyrone’s league campaign hasn’t gone to plan thus far either. Mickey Harte’s men lost to inform Kerry and Mayo in their opening two games before a late, late Niall Morgan score rescued a point against Roscommon two weeks ago.
Recent history suggests that when both these sides meet the outcome is normally determined by a touch of class and the games are usually marred in some controversy. Whether it’s Conor McManus’s 20-minute cameo last year in Castleblayney or Tiernan McCann’s infamous hair-gate scandal in Croke Park, Tyrone versus Monaghan always throws up something.
Expect tonight’s Healy Park encounter to be no different.
Two men at opposite ends of the field look set to play pivotal roles in this evening’s proceedings. Niall Morgan and Rory Beggan are among the best goalkeepers in the country and over the past number of years have proven to be more than just a netminder for their respective sides.
The Edendork man is a supremely talented footballer. He operates at midfield for his club side and is regularly racking up big scorelines.
His ability from placed balls is no secret at this stage. Morgan can kick points from anywhere in around 50 metres from goal.
The former Dungannon Swifts player is the one shining light in what’s been an abysmal campaign for Tyrone so far.
Morgan popped up against Mayo in the dying minutes when the game had long passed them by and kicked a screamer from open-play when no Tyrone players seemed to want the ball.
He backed that up the following week against Roscommon kicking the equalising score when it looked like Tyrone were about to fall for the third week running.
Tyrone seemed to lack confidence the entire and it looked like nobody was going to step up until Morgan forayed upfield once more to kick his second booming score in as many weeks to salvage a point for the Red Hands.
Morgan has proved to be Tyrone’s key figure so far this season. When the chips were down last week they turned to the Edendork man to get them out of trouble and he delivered.
Quite possibly the best ‘keeper in the country at present. Beggan was awarded the GAA All-Star award for his performances last season throughout Monaghan’s run to a first All-Ireland semi-final in 30 years.
Beggan has proved pivotal to the Farney County’s success over the past few years and has helped a great deal in taking some of the pressure of the shoulders of McManus who for so long carried them.
The Scotstown man revolutionised the position last year with his marauding runs upfield. His distribution was also top-class, Beggan can go short, but he can also go long, so long that more often than not his restarts set up Monaghan attacks.
Beggan is a quarterback, a linchpin and a driving force behind this Monaghan side and that is no mean feat considering they possess the best inside forward in Ireland.
It’s not rocket science to assume that whoever performs the better between these two tonight is more than likely going to come out with a win.
Both men will kick a few frees and you can be damn sure that both will find themselves hovering around midfield at some point during the game. It will be interesting to see if they ever cross paths.
As fans, we should revel in tonight’s match-up between two men who have revolutionised the game in their own way. Beggan has transformed the role of goalkeeper from simply shot-stopper to quarterback.
Morgan has the skill of an outfield player and it would seem that he’s been given license to roam this season and whilst it hasn’t translated for Tyrone in terms of league results, there is no denying that the Edendork man has been their stand-out star.
Enjoy it folks, it is not often we get to watch a Gaelic football match were the two most intriguing players are the goalkeepers.
Prediction: Tyrone & Morgan by 1