“Conor McManus went through the pain barrier to squeeze one more season out of himself,” says Monaghan manager Vinny Corey

Emotional scenes in Galway as Monaghan maestro leaves pitch in tears after Farneymen bow out

Conor McManus is consoled by his mother at he leaves the field at Pearse Stadium in Galway. Picture: Sportsfile
Conor McManus is consoled by his mother at he leaves the field at Pearse Stadium in Galway. Picture: Sportsfile (Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE)

THE faithful on both sides applauded as he walked off the field. Only the very best get a send-off like that and Conor McManus couldn’t keep the tears at bay.

They streamed down his face as he walked up the tunnel at Pearse Stadium.

He didn’t confirm it – that’s not his way - but it did look like the end for the Clontibret maestro after 18 seasons in his beloved Monaghan jersey.

God knows he did it proud. There’s never been a better point-scoring forward than ‘Mansy’.

Tall and athletic with two brilliant feet, he had eyes in the back of his head and was consistent, composed, totally committed and modest and humble with it.

His county’s hero on so many days, he even scored with his last touch against Galway on Saturday evening as Monaghan, typically, battled to the end in Salthill.

McManus has won Ulster titles, Allstars and Ireland caps in his collection, he deserved an All-Ireland medal to go with them but a semi-final was as close as he got and, with hip issues increasingly limiting his time on the pitch, it seems that – although we’d all like him to - he can’t go on forever.

Conor McManus fired Monaghan to another Ulster SFC triumph last month
Conor McManus has been the Monaghan hero on countless occasions throughout 18 seasons

Monaghan manager Vinny Corey soldiered with McManus for the best part of two decades as a player at club and county level. No-one knows the impact he’s had better.

“Whether he goes on or not is a decision for him to make,” said Corey.

“Listen, this is his 18th year so there’s definitely more sand at the bottom of the clock than the top. He’s been unbelievable.

“The Galway supporters clapped him off and how could you not? What he has given Monaghan and the GAA as a whole.

“The quality he produced time and time again over the years and for him to give such long service to Monaghan.

“You know, he could have walked away at the end of last year after an All-Ireland semi-final and been happy with his innings but he went through the pain barrier again this year just to squeeze one more season out of himself.

“He has a bad hip and has battled a bad hip for such a long time.

“For him to still have the hunger to do that and squeeze another year. He’s a fella that is used to starting every game, so to be happy to be an impact off the bench. It speaks volumes of that man.”

As for his own future as manager, Corey took the job on the proviso that there’d be a review after two seasons. He says he’ll do that with the county board and “see where we go”.

“We’ll all take a break for a few weeks,” he said.

“I’ll be reviewing it myself. We’ll talk to all the stakeholders involved and take it from there.”