GAA Football

Fine margins between victory and defeat says Monaghan star Drew Wylie

Drew Wylie gets to grips with Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly in this year's Ulster Championship quarter-final. Picture Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

IT’S a funny old game. Rewind a couple of months to early June and the Monaghan players sat in their Healy Park dressingroom sick as parrots while delirious Fermanagh fans belted out ‘Cooommme on you boys in green’ on the pitch outside.

Last Saturday it was ‘Cooommme on you boys in blue’ in Salthill as the Farney supporters and players celebrated Monaghan’s commanding win over Galway.

Victories need to be enjoyed and losses learned from and Drew Wylie has been around long enough to know that there often isn’t much between either.

“There are fine margins,” said the Ballybay full-back.

“You can win in one minute and lose in another.

“It’s massive for the Monaghan supporters who have travelled with us – they were there for the Fermanagh game and even the next day (against Waterford in the Qualifiers) they came in their hundreds, their thousands, and they backed us.

“There’s a lot of belief in our group, there was a lot of disappointment after the Fermanagh game but there was only one thing for it – get back on the road and see where we can get.”

After four unsuccessful attempts to reach the last four - 2013 (Tyrone), 2014 (Dublin), 2015 (Tyrone) and 2017 (Dublin) - the next roadblock on Monaghan’s route to a first ever Sam Maguire is Tyrone in Sunday’s all-Ulster semi-final at Croke Park.

“We have worked hard over the last number of years trying to get over the All-Ireland quarter-final stage,” said Wylie, the lynchpin of a full-back line that includes his younger brother Ryan and Kieran Duffy.

“There were disappointments and to get over this and get into a semi-final is massive but I don’t feel it was a monkey on our back.

“We approach every game the same but the opposition (in the quarter-finals) always seemed to be better than us on the day.”

Topping their Super 8 group meant that Monaghan avoided crossing swords with Dublin, who take on Galway on Sunday. But Wylie says the Farneymen had no preference over who they drew in the semi-finals.

“I wasn’t really thinking like that,” he said.

“We could have very easily playing the Dubs next week if the other results had gone a different way and it probably wouldn’t have phased us either way – we just take every team as they come.”

The atmosphere at Pearse Stadium last weekend was described as ‘Clones by the sea’ as fans from Ireland’s fourth smallest county (only Carlow, Longford and Leitrim have smaller populations) invaded the home of Galway football. They’ll make a lot of noise on Sunday too as the Farneymen take the field for their first semi-final in 30 years.

“From early on you could hear the support,” said Wylie.

“The Monaghan supporters travelled in their thousands and the different scores Mansy (Conor McManus) and the other lads kicked over you could find them driving us on. It was good.”

Wylie spent the last few minutes of Saturday’s game surrounded by Monaghan fans on the touchline after receiving a second yellow card. He admits that the rare breach of discipline annoyed him, but the hard work had been done by that stage and Monaghan held on comfortably for the win they deserved.

“I pride myself on good discipline – others might think different,” he said.

“But the boys finished the game out strong. It was all about not conceding that goal and as Galway attacked we were patient and we just kept chipping away at the other end of the field. We were patient and in control in the last 10 minutes.”

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