GAA Football

Tyrone home but a Monaghan heart for Emyvale native Ryan McAnespie

Ryan McAnespie has been a regular scorer for Monaghan throughout this Championship campaign
Andy Watters

RYAN McAnespie may have a Tyrone address, but his heart belongs to Monaghan, the county of his birth, and so he’ll walk behind the band with his team-mates in blue and white in Sunday’s all-Ulster All-Ireland semi-final against the Red Hands.

The talented young forward, who was outstanding with four points from play in Galway last Saturday, moved across the border from Emyvale to his father Vincie’s native Aughnacloy as a 10-year-old.

Locals might have hoped, even expected, a transfer but it never came. McAnespie stayed loyal to Emyvale, home of his mother Brenda who is a famous name in Monaghan Ladies’ football and he and his three sisters have all lined out for the Farney county.

McAnespie goes into Sunday’s semi-final against Tyrone on the back of an eye-catching display of finishing against the Tribesmen.

He scored two points in either half at Pearse Stadium with his second – a classy finish after a neat dummy bought him a yard of space near the Galway posts – arguably the pick of them.

“It’s probably one of the better games I've played,” said McAnespie, a nephew of Aidan McAnespie, who was shot and killed by a bullet fired by a British army sentry in February 1988 while he was making his way to Aughnacloy’s Aghaloo O'Neill's GAC.

“It was about getting a performance and getting a result and we came here and did that. It doesn’t matter who’s on the scoresheet so long as they’re getting the scores. That was all that mattered and it’s a great way to go into the semi-finals - to be topping the group.

“We came into the Super 8s to play every game as it comes and hopefully win every game as it comes. We have the two wins out of the three and drew one, so we’d be happy with that performance. “We have a week to prepare now for the next game; it’s nice to be going in with momentum but it’s going to be a tough challenge (against Tyrone) so we’ll be prepared for it anyway.”

Monaghan were denied clarification of their semi-final berth by David Clifford’s late goal that nicked a draw for Kerry. But there was no loss of confidence in the Farney ranks and they went about their work last Saturday with intensity right from the throw-in.

“We know if we get the performance right, we’ll put it up to any team at the minute,” said McAnespie.

“We had Kerry on the ropes and we just sort of let go and they got the draw out of it.

“We knew then we had to come here and we had to be more ruthless, take our shots and take our chances. We knew there was a job in hand and we knew Galway weren’t simple, especially on the League performance they were going well and in the previous Championship matches they’ve been going well too.

“But we knew if we got our own performance right, we’d put it up to any team and thankfully we did that.”

After the Saturday’s game Malachy O’Rourke credited the county’s supporters with lifting the team’s spirits after a sickening last minute loss to Fermanagh in Ulster. McAnespie agreed with the Monaghan manager.

“The whole Championship our support has been crazy,” he said.

“A couple of matches going away and we had more support than the home counties.

“They’ve been fantastic and especially when you’re out there playing, when we get a score or a block, you can hear them.

“It’s such a small county and you probably know half the people in the county and you’re probably friends with them all. I’m just very proud now, just very close to all the supporters. It’s like one big family and hopefully we can keep it going.

“It just drives the whole team on, and hopefully next year they’ll be in Croke Park again cheering us on again. They’ve been fantastic now so … keep it up!”

He added: “Fermanagh was probably one of our weaker performances.

“We’ve learned a lot from that game and we’ve grown from that game. We’ll just take every game as it comes.

“We can’t look any further than the semi-final. That’s our last game, in our eyes. So we’ll just have to get another performance and hopefully that does enough to get us over the line.”

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