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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Paddy Tierney

Derry vs Monaghan: Team news and key battles as Rory Gallagher selects unchanged team

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and Derry manager Rory Gallagher has seen no reason to alter his starting line-up ahead of Saturday’s Ulster SFC semi-final meeting with Monaghan in Omagh.

Eoin McEvoy, who was drafted in to replace Benny Heron for the quarter-final win over Fermanagh, retains his place after missing Wednesday night’s U20 Football Championship final loss to Down.

Fellow U20 panellists Lachlan Murray is included among the substitutes while Chrissy McKaigue and Conor Class are also set to start after being replaced in the win over Fermanagh as a precaution.

Read more: Tyrone GAA star Ronan McNamee opens up on battle with depression

Derry will be without Mark Doherty, Niall O’Donnell and Matthew Downey after they were involved in the U20 final with Diarmuid Baker and Oisin McWilliams added to the match-day panel.

Monaghan manager Vinny Corey, meanwhile, has made one change to his starting 15 following their surprise Ulster SFC quarter-final win over Tyrone.

Dessie Ward is recalled after failing a late fitness test with Karl O’Connell dropping to the bench.

However, it would be a surprise if O’Connell doesn’t start after he delivered a brilliant performance in their last-gasp win over the Red Hands in O’Neills Healy Park earlier this month.

We take a closer look at the key battles which could decide the outcome of Sunday’s game.

Team line-outs:

Key battles

Shane McGuigan (Derry) vs Ryan Wylie (Monaghan)

Derry's Shane McGuigan celebrates scoring a penalty against Fermanagh (©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

Shane McGuigan remains the best forward in Ulster on current form and Monaghan will need to do better on him this year than they managed in last year’s Ulster SFC semi-final.

McGuigan scored 0-7, two from play, in the Athletic Grounds but was fouled by Dessie Ward on numerous occasions.

It would be surprising if Ward picks him up again, especially after he was only fit for a late cameo against Tyrone.

Ryan Wylie fared well against Kieran McGeary in the win over Tyrone and Vinny Corey might get him to mark McGuigan on Saturday evening.

Ethan Doherty (Derry) vs Ryan O’Toole (Monaghan)

Ryan O’Toole rightly got all the plaudits after his stunning goal snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Tyrone.

However, he also helped restrict the in-form Darragh Canavan to one point in the second half after he gave Thomas McPhillips the runaround in the first.

He could have another important man-marking job to do on Saturday as Ethan Doherty continues to be the link-man for Derry.

Monaghan simply cannot afford to give Doherty the time and space to run at their defence if they are to progress to an Ulster Final.

Jack McCarron (Monaghan) vs Chrissy McKaigue (Derry)

Monaghan will be hoping Jack McCarron brings his 'A' game to Omagh when they face Derry on Saturday (©INPHO/James Crombie)

Derry will know exactly what Conor McManus can do and what he is capable of, but the key to a Monaghan win could lie with Jack McCarron.

He has delivered some excellent performances, most notably in the Ulster SFC semi-final win over Armagh in 2021, but he has been nearly as consistent as his attacking colleague.

McCarron was restricted to two free against Tyrone and he needs to step up to the mark on Saturday.

However, Chrissy McKaigue will have other ideas and kept him scoreless from play in last year’s semi-final.


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