Tyrone aren't our bogey team: O'Rourke
MALACHY O'Rourke feels Monaghan's overall record against Tyrone during his tenure undermines the idea that they will be facing their bogey team on Sunday.
The Derrylin exile, now a native of Ballygawley, can't do anything about the fact that Monaghan have lost twice to Tyrone in Croke Park under his command, losing All-Ireland quarter-finals to the Red Hands in 2013 and 2015.
Both times it was O'Rourke's side that headed to Dublin with a strong hand having won the Ulster title, but Mickey Harte's side prevailed before going on to lose to Mayo and Kerry respectively.
Monaghan had beaten Tyrone in between in 2014 and began this summer with a win in Healy Park, while they also won this year's National League meeting by a point.
“We can't do anything about that or worry about that,” said O'Rourke of their two Croke Park defeats.
“One thing I do know is that people say Tyrone are Monaghan's bogey team. I was just looking the other night, since we've been here since 2013 on, we've played Tyrone four times in the championship and both of us have won two games each.
“We've played three times in the National League, we've won twice and they've won once. There's been nothing between the teams, so we don't see Tyrone as our bogey team in any way.
“We know they're a really tough team, a really good team and all the games are nip and tuck. You're right that they've beaten us twice in Croke Park, so that's another challenge we face.”
Monaghan will have had eight days to recover from an emphatic win in Galway last weekend, one more than Tyrone after their strong finish in Ballybofey took them through at Donegal's expense.
O'Rourke says that after 30 years since their last appearance in an All-Ireland semi-final, they won't be complaining but that he'd prefer a bit more of a gap between the games to allow the county to drink in the rare flavour of mid-August football.
“I think it is [tight] when you are preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final and when the other teams are the same.
“For Monaghan's case, to wait thirty years to get to an All-Ireland semi-final and you saw the scenes after it, it would be nice for the supporters and the players to sit back and take it all in, to have plenty of time to recover and then plan ahead.
“So a week is very tight, but we are not complaining. We are delighted to be in the position we are in, we would gladly have taken it earlier on in the year so we will just make the best of it.”
The fact that both Tyrone and Monaghan fell victim to heavy losses to Dublin in last year's All-Ireland series, allied to the absence of Mayo and their old enemy from Kerry in this year's last four, has left many wondering whether the next three weeks will show a changing of the guard or that the Dubs are further ahead than ever before.
O'Rourke, who said that seeing the margin Dublin achieved against Tyrone last year “was some comfort” after his own team's 10-point loss, admits there's an uncertainty over whether anyone has narrowed the gap.
"Tyrone were very close to them in Omagh, a lot of the other games Dublin have been very comfortable.
“No-one can argue that Dublin were ahead of the posse last year, I think Mayo, in fairness to them, were very close to them in the final.
“No-one will know until this weekend when Galway go up against them and the final as well. There is no doubt there is a gap there, whether it has closed or not, time will tell.”