GAA Football

Fermanagh boss Rory Gallagher brains to burn but Monaghan should still prevail: Seamus McEnaney

Seamus McEnaney says Fermanagh boss Rory Gallagher is one of the brightest minds in Gaelic football Picture: Seamus Loughran

SEAMUS ‘Banty’ McEnaney says Monaghan are facing arguably the greatest tactician in the country in Rory Gallagher ahead of Sunday’s Ulster semi-final against Fermanagh – but believes his native county will still prevail.

Gallagher has an encyclopaedic knowledge of most county teams around the country and was more than a mere assistant manager to Jim McGuinness when Donegal clinched the All-Ireland title in 2012.

After stepping away from the Donegal hotseat last year, Gallagher seemed a perfect fit for his native Fermanagh and earlier this month he plotted the downfall of Armagh in their provincial opener, while Monaghan upset Tyrone in their first Championship game of the summer.

McEnaney revealed he often called Gallagher during his playing days for information on opposition teams and rates him as one of the brightest football minds in the game.

“Monaghan go in as favourites but they are coming up against a serious tactician in Rory Gallagher – he’s one of the best if not the best in the country.

“I know Rory a long time. When I started out and he was still playing, I used to pick his brains. He has a serious football brain.”

Tyrone were powerless in curbing the influence of Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan who had an outstanding game in Healy Park on May 20 while Conor McManus finished with a flourish to see off the defending champions.

“I was very impressed with Monaghan’s game management against Tyrone. They were very impressive at the pace they played at and the pace they wanted to play at,” said McEnaney.

“I was hugely impressed obviously with our goalkeeper Rory Beggan.

“I see Fermanagh setting up a little bit like the way Donegal set up against Dublin in 2011 [All-Ireland semi-final]. I would certainly think Fermanagh will do something to counteract Rory Beggan’s kick-outs and his influence on game.

“I know Rory Gallagher will be eating, sleeping and drinking this game and I know he will make it very difficult for Monaghan. I watched Fermanagh against Armagh and I was very impressed with their system of play and how they controlled that game.”

Despite McEnaney’s huge respect for Gallagher’s tactical ability, he feels Monaghan will have “too many tools in the tool box for Fermanagh”.

The Monaghan U17 manager added: “Rory is in his first year coaching Fermanagh and Malachy [O’Rourke] is six years in Monaghan with Ryan Porter, and they are a very steady outfit. Monaghan face a very different type of a challenge against Fermanagh than the Tyrone game.”

McEnaney, whose had managerial spells with Meath and Wexford since leaving the Monaghan senior post in 2010, says O’Rourke’s biggest challenge is managing the soaring expectations in the county.

“I’m now a Monaghan supporter and I’m doing something that I dreaded as a manager. Expectations have gone through the roof for this team and it will be hard to keep them dampened.

“But you have to put it in perspective too. Monaghan beat a Tyrone team that ended up without Colm Cavanagh, without Lee Brennan, without Mark Bradley and without Tiernan McCann.

“The sides were level with five minutes to go, and you’re also playing a team that Dublin beat by 20 points last August. So you have to factor all those things in.

“Monaghan have a lot of experienced players, very level-headed fellas. I was really impressed with them against Tyrone and I left Healy Park thinking: ‘I don’t really fear anybody’. But that’s dangerous talk. Dangerous talk. I wouldn’t get carried away but Monaghan would match most of them.”

And ‘Banty’ believes there is more to come from Clontribret star Conor McManus who slayed Tyrone in the closing stages of last month’s epic encounter.

“Conor would know himself: 15 minutes to go against Tyrone he wasn’t going as well as he would expect. But he was majestic in the last 15 minutes of the game.”

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