GAA Football

Monaghan must be more clinical to win in Galway says Malachy O'Rourke

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke speaks to Darren Hughes during the dramatic draw with Kerry on Sunday.
Picture Seamus Loughran

MONAGHAN boss Malachy O’Rourke suggested that he expected their race for an All-Ireland SFC semi-final place to go to the third and final round.

The Farneymen were moments away from a first appearance in the senior football last four for 30 years when Kerry’s teenage sensation David Clifford struck a dramatic equalising goal in Clones on Sunday.

Monaghan must now avoid defeat away to Galway on Saturday August 4 in order to progress but O’Rourke says he anticipated the third game being important: “It’s bitterly disappointing, obviously, but it was always going to be a three-game series, that’s the way we approached it.

“We’ve got two games over us, we’re sitting on three points, so we just have to draw a line under [the Kerry game] as soon as we can and re-focus on the next game against Galway.”

The Tribesmen will top Group One if they win or even draw against Monaghan, having won their two matches so far against Kerry and Kildare.

As stated, a draw would be enough to put Monaghan in against reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin, who are chasing four-in-a-row. A draw would suit both sides in Salthill but O’Rourke expects both teams to be targeting two points:

“I don't know but I'm sure Galway being the competitive team that they are they'll be looking to put in a big performance and finish top of the group. It's about ourselves. In all these games we've really concentrated on ourselves and looking to get our own performance right. We feel we have a chance against any of them and that will be the same against Galway.

"From our own point of view we were delighted to get into it and mixing against the best teams in the country and that's the way we have approached it. We weren't going in and saying we were going to beat so and so, we were just delighted to be there, test ourselves against Kildare, we wanted to do the same thing against Kerry, a Kerry team who would have been one of the favourites for the All-Ireland, certainly in the last couple of weeks.

“We proved we were able to be really competitive against them. It moves on to Galway, they are another team that has had a great year, looking really strong so it's another test for us and we look forward to it.”

Monaghan really should have secured their semi-final place already, O’Rourke accepted, having led from the first score of the match – Conor McManus’s second minute goal – right up until that late leveller from 19-year-old Clifford in the fourth minute of added time.

“Yeah that was the most disappointing thing,” admitted O’Rourke. “I felt we were in charge in several areas around the field and we played some quality football. I thought the boys put in a serious shift there. Their work-rate was really, really good there.

“We could have been a wee bit more clinical and when you look at the stats of the match, even though we would be happy with our performance and played really well, we were probably not half as clinical as we needed to be so there is improvement for us there as well. We will take the positives out of it; it is disappointing the way it finished up but we will dust ourselves down and be ready for the next day.

“It was very disappointing at the end. I thought we controlled the game, I thought we played really good football, we defended for our lives and we thought we had it.”

Kerry could have snatched a completely undeserved win at the very end but O’Rourke rejected the suggestion that was ‘a worry’, responding: “I’m not sure about it being a worry, it’s a disappointment because in many ways we had the game won, we had got ourselves in that position.

“That’s the positives I’m taking out of the game, we put in a great shift. Just because Kerry came back, fair play to them, it doesn’t take away all the positives from the game for us. We have to learn from it as best we can, learn our lessons, and making sure that we’re better prepared again for the next day. It’s going to be another massive battle for us – but hopefully we’ll be ready”.

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