Monaghan minor boss Seamus McEnaney looking forward to another crack at Kingdom
SEAMUS McEnaney came excruciatingly close to getting Monaghan across the line against Kerry twice when he was senior boss, and he is looking forward to having another crack at the Kingdom on Sunday.
A dramatic late fightback saw the eventual All-Ireland champions edge Monaghan by a point in the 2007 quarter-final and a year later - this time in a third round qualifyier clash - a 68th minute Kieran Donaghy goal saw the Kingdom through.
Ten years on and ‘Banty’ is now in charge of the county minors as they plot the downfall of the county that has dominated at this level since 2014, taking the last four All-Ireland crowns – the first county ever to do so.
The likes of David Clifford and Sean O’Shea may have successfully made the step up to the senior ranks, but McEnaney is under no illusions about the extent of the challenge presented by Pete Keane’s side in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final.
“They have had an unbelievable run of success,” he said.
“To go 28 Championship games unbeaten and to be chasing five in-a-row is an incredible achievement. The next Kerry senior manager is a lucky man with that sort of talent coming through.
“We know they are an awesome side, there’s no denying the challenge for us and obviously they are coming in as red hot favourites.
“We’re in our second All-Ireland semi-final in 70-odd years and they’re going for five in-a-row, so there’s been a fair gulf there.
“Championship football is all about how you perform on the day though and we need the best possible start so we can keep it as tight as we can. We want to try and stay in this game as long as we can and then we can see what we can do then.”
It promises to be a special day for the Farney County, with Malachy O’Rourke’s men also in last four action when they face rivals Tyrone for the second time this summer in a mouthwatering all-Ulster affair for a place in the September 2 decider.
Taking part in a Croke Park double-header promises to be a special occasion for the loyal Monaghan supporters who have followed the fortunes of both teams this year.
For Kerry, meanwhile, it will be the first time since 2012 that they will head into an All-Ireland semi-final without the senior footballers to follow them.
And McEnaney hopes the Farney following can help make the difference when his side run on Sunday.
“It’s the first time in the history of the GAA that the Monaghan minors and seniors are togging out in Croke Park together and we’re delighted to be part of that,” added the Corduff man.
“It’s a great occasion for the Monaghan supporters. There’ll be a huge crowd there and I think that will be very beneficial for the minors.
“The support we have can be a big help as it has been so far. I know for sure in Omagh when the backs were to the wall against Down in extra-time, the Monaghan support really rallied behind them and it helped a lot.
“These boys have those experiences in the bank - playing in Omagh when there were 20,000 people there and up against Donegal when there were 10,000 people breathing down their necks.
“They’re ready for Sunday.”