We can't let any more points slip away warns Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke
MALACHY O’Rourke is determined that Monaghan must not let any more valuable points slip from their grasp as they bid to save their skins in Division One.
The Farneymen were caught by a late Kerry burst in Killarney a fortnight ago, were made to pay after a second half Galway surge in Inniskeen, and were left counting the cost of a last gasp Roscommon penalty.
Add in defeat to Tyrone and the only points Monaghan have on the board heading into the final two games of the campaign are those secured against All-Ireland champions Dublin on the opening day of the League.
Tomorrow’s derby clash with Cavan in Clones therefore takes on added significance, with Mickey Graham’s Breffnimen also out to avoid the drop.
And O’Rourke admits his side can’t allow their performance levels to drop off again.
“The Roscommon game, I actually thought in the second half we played well but got caught with the penalty near the end,” he said.
“Galway had a good second half performance and then we finished the game strong, we were putting on a lot of pressure in the last 10 minutes or so.
“And then against Kerry there we played well for a lot of the game and then in the last seven or eight minutes they took over. There’s no doubt it is one of the things we’re trying to address.
“Last year we won maybe three of our games by a point, this year we’ve lost two by a point so the margins between victory and defeat are very fine.
“We felt last week our performance was much better, our team play was much better, we worked much harder. Some of the quality in our play was very good, we just didn’t do it for long enough.
“The thing about Cavan, Mickey Graham has moved in there and that has given them an increase in energy – Mickey’s coming off a great club run as well [with Mullinalaghta]. Marty Corey is there too and Marty would know Monaghan club football inside out, so it all adds to the challenge we face.
“But the boys have been in situations like this before and we’re looking to see can we meet the challenge head on.”
Monaghan were in Division Three when O’Rourke took over from Eamonn McEneaney in 2012 before consecutive promotions led them to the top flight.
They have remained there ever since, and the last five years spent in Division One have given the Farneymen a platform to improve year upon year.
And, with their fate in their own hands over the next two weeks, O’Rourke is keen to avoid dropping down a level.
“We’d love to stay in Division One, there’s no point saying otherwise.
“That’s why this match takes on a massive significance for us, and it does for Cavan as well. They’ve only come up this year and I’m sure they wouldn’t want to go back down straight away.
“It’s a really important game, and we understand the kind of performance we need to get two points; that doesn’t guarantee us anything, but at least it means we would go into the last game with a chance of staying up.
“The first division is a great division to be playing in, you’re playing against quality teams and quality players every week, and it is a really good testing ground if you’re looking at newer players or different aspects of your team play.
“That’s why we’d really be keen to stay in it.”