GAA Football

Next Monaghan boss must 'hit the ground running' insists former Farney star Paul Finlay

Paul Finlay believes whoever replaces Malachy O'Rourke will have to make a 'seamless' transition if Monaghan are to remain a force to be reckoned with. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Neil Loughran

FORMER Monaghan ace Paul Finlay believes whoever replaces Malachy O’Rourke must “hit the ground running” as the Farney County prepare to begin the interview process for his successor.

Tony McEntee and Seamus McEnaney are among the frontrunners for the post, although it is understood that another three candidates are also under consideration.

It is almost two months since O’Rourke called time following seven successful years in the post, during which time Monaghan landed Ulster titles in 2013 and 2015, as well as becoming an established Division One force.

And Finlay believes that whoever fills the Derrylin man’s shoes will have to make an immediate impact.

“It’s a very important appointment because you’re dealing with a crew of fellas, the likes of Conor McManus, Drew Wylie, Colin Walshe, Darren Hughes, where you’d need to really get another year or two out of them, as well as bringing in some new talent,” said the Ballybay playmaker.

“Monaghan are still in Division One, it’s very important that they stay there and try and hit the ground running – I don’t think they can afford any time for someone to settle in and see how it’s going to go.

“It’s something that’s going to have to be fairly seamless and carry on from where they’re at.

“The set-up Malachy had, anybody involved there knows how good and how professional that was, so that puts pressure on the new regime to get something similar in place, while not really having the time to take a backward step.

“The slightest drop off is going to be seen as a failure given what’s gone before.”

And Finlay feels that lifting the Anglo-Celt Cup again should be the top priority for the new man,

“The squad is there to be really competitive again,” he said.

“Even in Malachy’s time, they’ll be looking back at the games in Ulster they just shouldn’t have been losing... it’s an Ulster title Monaghan should really be going after now. They need to reset their goals, try and get another Ulster title under their belts and see can they take it from there.

“But that’s easier said than done with the way Donegal and Tyrone are going.”

And while much of the speculation surrounds who will get the top job, Finlay insists it is the backroom team personnel which could swing the vote.

Former Fermanagh boss Rory Gallagher was previously linked with McEnaney’s ticket, although that talk has subsided in recent times, while there has also been speculation about who McEntee might bring on board were he to land the job.

“I’ve nothing but good to say about ‘Banty’,” said Finlay, who played under the Corduff man from 2004-2010.

“In my time knowing Seamus McEnaney, he’s so passionate about Monaghan - that’s what he brings. You’re guaranteed that he’ll look to bring a real quality team around him too, he’ll never claim to have it all himself.

“He would look for top quality coaches and to create the best set-up he can possibly create. He also has experience with some of the younger guys coming up too through his involvement with the U17s.

“Tony seems to have the few boxes ticked that you’re looking for at that level, having been involved with Mayo and taken Cross to an All-Ireland title. But so much depends not just on the individual, but on the backroom team.

“The coaching’s so important, the strength and conditioning is so important, nutritionists, physios, they all have such a big part to play in the modern game and on how well a set-up is run.

“Those kind of individuals surely have the credentials but what sort of a team they can put together is probably more important.”

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