The last line for Rory Beggan is Scotstown success in Ulster
GOALKEEPERS have become a highly protected species during this age of sweepers and massed defences.
But spare a thought for Scotstown's Rory Beggan who, on a weekly basis, runs the risk of finding himself exposed due to his side's man-to-man strategy. Began admitted the Monaghan champions' policy of playing without a sweeper may have been responsible for the concession of two goals in last Sunday's Ulster Club SFC semi-final against Trillick.
"It has worked for us and it hasn't worked for us. There was times in that game when it didn't work for us and they got the two goals from it," he said.
The 2015 Allstar nominee would prefer to see more defensive bodies in front of him as attacks are mounted. But manager Mattie McGleenan's 'pure football' approach has been a spectacular success in Scotstown's all-conquering run to a first provincial decider since 1989.
"You would like that extra protection, but you just have to play the way that's going well for you and, thankfully, it has been going well for us. It's the way we have played all year and it's the way we're going to continue to play, I'd say."
Beggan's role as an organiser has become all the more important in the chosen game plan: "I have big role now to keep the defenders on their toes," he added.
"They have to be up tight on their man and, if they're not, I just have to let them know because you need to be very tight with no sweeper. It's just about getting them ready, making sure they're tuned in and getting every man ready."
It was only in the final quarter of last Sunday's Brewster Park tie that he was able to enjoy an extra level of protection, when Scotstown flooded bodies back to defend a slender lead: "Near the end there, we got that sort of protection," he said.
Remarkably, it was goalkeeper Beggan who scored the only point of a dogged final 20 minutes, converting a 48-metre free to seal his side's place in the decider against Crossmaglen.
"That's what you're going to get. It's going to be very low-scoring and we expected that," he said.
"It's just whenever you get your chances, you have to take them. I missed one before that, but it sort of measured me up a bit, so when I got up, I knew where to hit it and thankfully it went over, just about."
By that time, two Darren Hughes goals had given the Farney champions the edge: "He's an unbelievable target man. If he goes for it, nine times out of 10, he's going to win it," said Beggan.
"He's great to have in there, he hit 2-2 out of 2-9 and that's unbelievable for us. It's massive for us and the goals are key and thank God he came up trumps again. Hopefully, one or two or three more games he can do it again."
Next up, it's the legendary Cross in the decider at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday week and Beggan is looking forward to facing the game's most successful club.
"The experience that they have in this competition, the medals they have picked up in this competition, it's going to be massive for us," he added.
"We have a big two weeks now. We'll recover, meet up Tuesday night and get ourselves right again for Cross. It's where you want to be, you want to be playing these teams at this time of year. You don't want to be sitting in the stand watching it, you want to be out, putting yourself up against the best and, thankfully, we can do that".