GAA Football

Monaghan's O'Rourke wary of Galway 'deflection'

20/05/2018: Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke against Tyrone during the Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter final at Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
By Padraig Kelly

MONAGHAN manager Malachy O’Rourke believes that there was a bit of deflection coming into play as Galway boss Kevin Walsh called for further protection from officials for key forward Damien Comer.

An opinion piece in last Tuesday’s Irish Independent, an article widely shared on social media, described the Tribesmen as “becoming the nastiest, most spiteful side about” and pointed to the alleged dark arts they deployed in their win against Kildare in their last Super 8 fixture.

Since then Walsh has flagged up the Comer issue claiming that the attacker is a victim of his own strength and isn’t treated as fairly as he should be.

As Monaghan prepare to travel to Pearse Stadium for their make-or-break Group One game on Saturday, O’Rourke felt that Walsh was trying to deviate the conversation.

“With Kevin Walsh I suppose the microscope was put on them a wee bit last week,” he said. “I think this is maybe a way of deflecting the spotlight away from his own players and his own defenders and things like that.

“From our point of view, all we’re looking for is consistency with the referee.

“Earlier on the Championship we would have been disappointed. We felt that frees that were being awarded at one end of the field weren’t being awarded at the other end.

“We felt that we suffered a wee bit from that but from this stage on the top referees are going to be involved in the games and we expect a high level performance.

“As long as all teams are being treated equally and the refereeing performances are consistent all the way through, well that’s all you can ask for.”

Much of the lead-up to the game has focussed on what Galway are going to bring to the equation having already qualified for the All-Ireland semi-final courtesy of their victories against Kerry and Kildare.

There has been talk of resting players but O’Rourke believes that they will be facing a Tribe side at its strongest and most determined.

“I would be fairly sure that Galway will put out a strong team, the strongest team they can,” he said.

“They will be looking to win the game. I think they have lost one game all year, that was the League final against Dublin, so I think they’ll want to keep winning.

“They’ll be looking to top the group to avoid Dublin until the final so we’re expecting to face a very strong team and it’s going to take a massive performance if we’re to qualify for the semi-final.

“It’s fairly black and white and we know what it’s going to take.”

Saturday’s game will come 13 days after Monaghan had their semi-final dreams shattered – temporarily at least - by David Clifford’s eye of the needle goal for Kerry.

That draw only dented their aspirations and a point or better – on the assumption Kerry will beat Kildare - will take them through.

O’Rourke has said that the players and management are truly over the disheartening end to their game with the Kingdom.

“We had played very well and we thought we had the game won.

“To be caught at the death like that with so much at stake was tough to take in the immediate aftermath.

“We’ve drawn a line under it now, we know we have a great opportunity. If someone had offered us this at the start of the year we would have gladly taken it.

“We took a lot of positives out of the game against Kerry. They were after putting in a performance they would have been disappointed with against Galway and people thought they would have been coming up to Clones and beating us.

“So there was a lot to take out of that game and we now know that we have one big performance left to put in and that’s were our sights are focussed.”

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