GAA Football

Monaghan stars need to prove themselves again under new manager Seamus McEnaney says Rory Beggan

Rory Beggan in action against Cavan in last year's Division One clash. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

SEVEN years with Malachy O'Rourke delivered two Ulster titles, an All-Ireland semi-final and saw Monaghan establish themselves as a force in Division One.

But O'Rourke's exit at the end of last season and the second coming of former Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney means that all the players – even those as decorated as Rory Beggan – have to start from scratch and prove themselves once again.

“It was a brilliant seven years under Malachy and we want to start a new chapter under this new management and hopefully have a similar or even more success,” said Scotstown goalkeeper Beggan.

“It's a fresh start. Every player has to prove themselves because what we've done in the last number of years isn't going to be good enough any more. There is a new management team in there and we have to prove our worth.

“We need to show we are determined to get the best for Monaghan football and be the best we can be so we're going to have to train hard.”

Rory Beggan was first drafted into the Monaghan panel by Eamon McEneaney in 2011 and has since established himself one of the country's top free-taking goalkeepers. He was an Allstar winner in 2018.

“It (working under new management) is going to be a huge change,” he admitted.

“There are completely new personnel in but some of the players have worked with ‘Banty' before and I've worked with David (McCague, assistant-manager) with the club.

“It's a new experience for me but he's a good man, he does his bit for the players and it has been good so far. I'm looking forward to the weeks and months ahead.”

A MASSIVE change to next year's Monaghan dressing-room will be the absence of long-serving veterans Vinny Corey and Dessie Mone.

The Clontibret clubmen stepped down after 16 (Corey) and 15 (Mone) years at the inter-county coalface and Monaghan team-mate Rory Beggan says life won't be the same without them.

“I used to watch them playing for Monaghan and then Vinny coached me when I was in secondary school so it was an experience to come in and play in the same team as him,” he said.

“Those lads owe Monaghan football nothing, they were great servants and they will be missed about the dressing-room and on the pitch as well. They were big players for Monaghan right until the end, the new boys coming in would have learned a lot from them and they kept high standards about the team.”

Monaghan have been grouped with Derry and Donegal in the Dr McKenna Cup and, like the other Ulster counties, they will use the competition to build a head of steam for their League campaign.

The Farneymen begin Division One against Galway in Salthill, scene of their memorable win in the Super 8 stage of the 2018 All-Ireland Championship.

Despite beating Dublin in their opener last year, Monaghan struggled in the top flight but results went for them on the final day and beating neighbours Cavan was enough to retain their Division One status.

“We got two wins last year and we never got that solid bit of momentum that we had in previous years,” said Beggan.

“This year we'll be looking to keep the performance levels up and not leave it until the last day fighting relegation at depending on other results. Nobody wants that, it wasn't nice losing in Mayo last year and waiting to hear the other result – whether we were down or not.

“We want to make sure it's in our own hands at that stage next year and hopefully we'll start that off with a performance and a good result against Galway.”

Mone and Corey have gone, but Monaghan have retained the services of the superb Conor McManus and the experience of Beggan and the likes of Ryan Wylie and Darren Hughes. Alongside those household names, youngsters like Aaron Mulligan, Jason Irwin and Andrew Woods will be striving to break into the team.

“We always aim to be top in Ulster but it's such a competitive province,” said Beggan.

“Armagh, Fermanagh and Cavan have shown that if they prepare right for any game they can win it. There are no real underdogs in the Ulster Championship any more and we've been on the wrong side of results in games we were expected to win.

“I'm not saying we did look past any game – we were beaten by better teams on the day – but we still feel we're up there as one of the best teams and we need to prove that again.”

Dr McKenna Cup Round 1

Sunday December 29

Inniskeen, 2pm: Monaghan v Derry

Brewster Park, 2pm: Fermanagh v Down

Kingspan Breffni, 2pm: Cavan v Armagh

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GAA Football