GAA Football

Rory Beggan's confidence returns in dead-ball masterclass

Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan stands over a free during the win over Cavan on Sunday. Picture by Seamus Loughran

WHEN Rory Beggan stepped back from a free three minutes before half-time, he was close to the Cavan 65 and facing into a gale force wind.

There’s nothing elaborate about the technique that follows. He places the ball with the valve facing away (unusual in itself), takes four big steps back, two to the left and a deep breath.

Then he strides forward and kicks one of the best dead balls you might ever see, cutting straight through the conditions and sailing so far above the crossbar that he would probably still have scored from another five yards back.

The style is so distinctive. He doesn’t ever seem to kick through the ball when taking a free but the Scotstown goalkeeper produces more of a chipping action, yet manages to get such distance and height on the ball.

He wasn’t called into kicking duty in their preliminary round win over Fermanagh but had no hesitation in stepping forward when called upon in Kingspan Breffni on Sunday.

Yet he admits that after last year’s two meetings with Donegal at the Ulster semi-final stage, his confidence on the frees took a hammering.

“I know last year here against Donegal I missed a few frees and I remember leaving and coming to the training ground thinking 'is there another way I can change this about?'

“It does affect your confidence but you have to try and score more than you miss at training but you can hit all you want at training, when you've a big crowd in front of you like today you need to be hitting them and thankfully today they went over.”

But there was no structural change to what he does, but rather a reaffirmation of the levels of concentration needed before he steps up to kick.

“No [I didn’t change technique], just to take a couple of steps back from the ball and settle myself. That's what I'm starting to do now.

“When you start to think about them too much a lot of stuff can go through your head so it's about taking the least time over it and just hit it.”

There were second half frees that were well within his range but with Conor McManus looking sharp, Beggan said he was happy to leave them aside.

“With the wind 45 yards out, it's probably Conor's range and he's hit some big ones for us over the years. I'm happy to let them have it if they feel they can put them over the bar, but if they need me to come up, I'll come up.

“We have a windy training ground and we are practicing a lot with the wind and into the wind, so thankfully they went over. The next day I could miss three so I have to refocus.”

His involvement in the rest of the game was relatively limited, though he did catch the eye with a couple of passes from hand and one monstrous kickout with the wind that beat the whole Cavan half-back line and sent Kieran Hughes into the clear.

And he could only be relieved in the depths of stoppage time when Cavan substitute Ryan Connolly pounced on a breaking ball and lashed a shot for all he was worth from close range.

Beggan went the right way but it was too high and too hard. He was relying on luck from there, and it fell on the side of Monaghan as the game’s very last kick hammered back off the post to safety.

“There were a lot of bodies in there, he had only one place to go for and in fairness he struck it very well. It went too fast to probably get a touch but thankfully it hit the post. Look, it was fine margins anyway.”

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GAA Football