GAA Football

Open draw All-Ireland was worth testing out this year says Monaghan star Conor McCarthy

An open-draw All-Ireland would have been worth testing out this year says Monaghan star Conor McCarthy. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

THIS would have been the year to try out an open draw for the All-Ireland Championship, says Monaghan forward Conor McCarthy.

The Scotstown star, who scored a match-winning 1-5 against Ballybay in Sunday's county final win, would have liked to see all the names drawn out of the same hat this year but the GAA decided to stick to the provincial formula and McCarthy is relishing the prospect of “do-or-die” Championship football.

“I think the GAA could have went a step further and made it a 32-county open draw,” he said.

“This is probably the year they could have tested it out but the knockout system is 100 per cent with me. It's win or die and there's no better Championship feeling than if you're knocked out, you're gone and you win you're through. I back it 100 per cent.”

The Farneymen have crucial Division One games against Kerry and Meath to concentrate on before the Championship begins against rivals Cavan at Clones on October 31.

“They are two hugely-competitive games and not every team in the country can say that before the start of the Championship,” said McCarthy.

“It's the ultimate preparation for us because those games are massive and credit to the GAA for setting them up because it's important that we do finish out the League.”

Monaghan are two points clear of the relegation zone with two games to go and one win should be enough to stave off relegation. Securing their top flight status would be ideal preparation for the meeting with Cavan.

McCarthy won his sixth senior title on Sunday. His first came in 2013 when he scored four points in the final – only his second senior game – against Clontibret. Opponents Ballybay began Sunday's decider encouragingly but never really looked like winning after a McCarthy free sent Scotstown ahead.

“When I saw the start they made I thought: ‘Jesus, these boys are right up for it, they are going to give it everything they have here',” he said.

“But we didn't panic. We've been in those situations before in county finals before when we've been behind and most of the boys are experienced enough to know not to panic and we came back and kept plugging away. We played well in the second half.”

Scotstown scored 1-6 to a single point in the second half and their 10-point win means they went through their county championship with a 100 per cent winning record. With form like that they might have fancied their chances in an Ulster Club Championship but the provincial competition has been cancelled this year.

“One of the boys was saying they were raging there was no Ulster championship this year because of the way we are playing,” said McCarthy.

“But this year we were lucky to get a championship at all. It's a credit to the county board for organizing the championship this year. It was definitely worth it and fair play to the GAA, fair play to the county board, for getting it set up.

“We'll be back in training with Monaghan in the next week so you're attention has to change quickly,” he added.

“That's the way this year is. You're usually going from Monaghan back into the club but this year it's the other way round and I'll have to turn my focus over the next few days.”

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