Bitterly disappointed Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke reflects on Ulster semi-final upset
Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final: Fermanagh 1-8 Monaghan 0-10
BITTERLY disappointed Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke was fighting back tears when he faced the media in the wake of his side’s one-point loss to Fermanagh.
His men were short of their best yesterday and that was enough against a hungrier Fermanagh outfit that arrived as underdogs but left with dreams of becoming Ulster's top dogs for the first time in their county’s history.
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“We thought coming in we'd been playing well, we felt there was a good hunger among the squad but it just didn't happen for us on the day,” said O’Rourke.
“It’s just very hard to take, there's no point in saying any different, it's a really tough one.”
Fermanagh stopped the Monaghan runners, gave them no space to work in and forced them into mistakes throughout yesterday’s engrossing semi-final.
“It was very, very tough,” said O’Rourke.
“They were set up very well, they were very hungry, they marked really tight, we found it hard to get space but our boys would be the first to admit we were a wee bit off the game. “When you're a wee bit off like that, that extra bit of movement and energy, gaps aren't as quick to appear so we found it hard to get space up there for a lot of the game. Towards the end we did and we went two points up and that makes it even more sickening to lose it at the end like that.”
Monaghan were shocked by Down last year and O’Rourke admits it will be hard to rally his troops for a run in the Qualifiers.
“It's going to be hard to lift them, there's no doubt,” he said.
“We've lost at this stage for the past two years, we were really hungry to get to another Ulster final, we felt we had prepared well, we hoped that we had shielded the boys from all the talk that was going around but for whatever reason we just didn't get the performance we needed, that's it, that's football.”
He added: “Fermanagh scored 1-8, most days when you keep a team to that you expect to win the game, I suppose we went 0-10 0-8 up and it looked like we had weathered the storm and done enough top get through and the goal at the end is a tough one to take.”