Clontibret enjoying Monaghan triumph before Cross' challenge - Dessie Mone
FORGIVEN, but not forgotten. Clontibret and Crossmaglen have history in the Ulster Club SFC, partly personified by the new Monaghan champions' manager, John McEntee.
In truth, Dessie Mone didn't seem too bothered about the provincial competition after ending Scotstown's four-year 'domestic' reign – but it was still him who brought up a certain score from 'John Mc'.
Asked who was behind Clontibret's relentless running game – with the suggestion that it wasn't the famously languid McEntee – Mone laughed and replied:
"Funny enough, the first time we met I reminded him he'd scored a point off me in 2006, along the sideline, in an Ulster Club match – he works on the kicking, he doesn't work on the running part.
"It's a point I'll never forget, in Breffni, but we made up when he came in, I've forgiven him."
That score helped Cross' edge that encounter, by 1-9 to 0-11 in an Ulster semi-final, and the clubs met again in the following year's quarter-finals, with the south Armagh side once more emerging victorious by the minimum margin in Clones, 1-8 to 1-7.
Clontibret returned to Ulster in 2009, 2010, and 2014, beating Kilcoo and St Gall's in that last involvement, but 35-year-old Mone implied that they wouldn't be setting their sights too high this time around:
"Listen, this is our first title in a few years so we'll enjoy it and get back to training later on in the week. Whatever John sets out for us, we'll try and give the Ulster Club a good rattle."
Winning Monaghan truly was an achievement in itself after Scotstown's recent dominance, including seven consecutive finals, with Clontibret the last side to beat them in a decider, pipping them by a point in 2014.
Indeed Mone hailed this as perhaps the sweetest of his seven successes, explaining: "It was yeah, it was a tough one to get.
"I missed the 2016 county final and Vinny [Corey] was injured before it as well and it killed me until we got to another one. I'm just glad we got it and it was one of the sweetest ones because it was a real squad effort - the whole year the squad was fantastic."
Yet although the outcome was an 'upset', especially the score-line of 1-14 to 0-11, Mone argued that it had been coming:
"The club's put in a lot of hard work over the last few years to get to this day, we didn't just turn up and think we were going to play like that, we had the hard work done over the last couple of years.
"It just took us time to get the young boys through. There's a lot of work going on around the club with new facilities too.
"We knew Scotstown were after coming off two matches against Ballybay and they might have had a bit of fatigue in the legs, so we knew we had to get a good start.
"Usually we are slow starters but we wanted to get a good start in this final and we did that, things went well. Boys were running for each other, that's what you need against a team like Scotstown.
"They've been worthy champions over the last four years and we needed to play at a top level. All the boys rolled in behind that, not just one or two, the whole squad has been doing that."
Mone's enjoyment of playing has not lessened, he says: "I love putting on the jersey, Clontibret and Monaghan, I don't think there's a better feeling than coming out on championship days and days like this.
"Over time you probably go out and lose more, but when you win them you savour them and enjoy them and the occasion.
"That's what we had the last few years but we wanted more memories, and that's what we've done."
With Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney back in charge of Monaghan, following Malachy O'Rourke, Mone did not rule out continuing on the inter-county scene:
"The last few years I've always just seen how the club season goes first and make sure the body is right and if I'm fit to do it. We are going to be involved in the Ulster Club now so total focus is on the club at the minute and I'll chat to the Banty in a couple of months or so.
"I have the Clontibret jersey on me now and that's all I'm going to push for at the minute".