GAA Football

Monaghan have moved on from training breach says Farney coach David McCague

Monaghan coach David McCague insists the Fareny management team are well equipped to manage in the absence of manager Seamus McEnaney, who is currently suspended from the sidelines following a breach of Covid-19training regulations. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Neil Loughran

MONAGHAN coach David McCague says the Farney County have drawn a line under last month’s high-profile training breach, which saw boss Seamus McEnaney suspended and home advantage forfeited for Sunday’s National League opener against Armagh.

A week after photos emerged showing members of the Dublin panel involved in drills prior to the April 19 return date for collective training, pictures and video footage surfaced of a Monaghan session in Corduff.

McEnaney admitted “a serious error of judgement” and is unable to attend training or matches while the suspension is in place. McCague, though, insists the matter has not been dwelled upon among the panel.

“Monaghan GAA made a statement on it at the time,” said the Scotstown man.

“We held our hands up, we parked it, we’ve moved on and the focus now is very much on looking forward.”

As a result of McEnaney’s absence, greater responsibility falls on the shoulders of McCague as well as the likes of backroom team colleagues Donie Buckley and former county stalwart Vinny Corey.

However, McCague is hopeful that altered dynamic won’t have too dramatic an effect in the weeks ahead.

“Any good team operates off the premise of shared leadership, that’s what a good management team is as well - it’s something Seamus is very strong on himself, that leadership would be distributed so it’s a test of that shared leadership now that we have to operate in his absence.

“We’re very confident we have good people around us, I don’t think there’ll be any absence of leadership within the management team.”

Rather than their traditional home at St Tiernach’s Park, Sunday’s Division One North showdown with Armagh will instead take place on neutral territory – with Brewster Park hosting this all-Ulster clash.

In normal circumstances being stripped of home advantage would be a significant sanction, particularly in a year when counties are operating in a truncated League format due to the impact of Covid-19.

However, with supporters still unable to attend games, it appears unlikely to make much difference whether the match takes place in Clones or Enniskillen.

“We’ll know more on Sunday evening I suppose,” said McCague, who worked alongside McEnaney with the 2018 Ulster title-winning Monaghan minors.

“We’d love to play the game in Clones, we love playing there, we see it as a natural home for us, and Inniskeen has been good to us as a venue as well. Home advantage is always something Monaghan have utilised to their advantage.

“It’s obviously not a home game for Armagh on Sunday either, it actually might have a feel of a Championship game to it because of the neutral venue… neither team would be overly familiar with the surroundings. It will be interesting to see how it impacts on our performance, if at all.”

Neither can afford to come out of the traps slowly this year, with Armagh bidding to consolidate their hard earned spot in the top flight while the Farney go into their seventh campaign as a Division One county – a status McCague and Monaghan are determined to retain.

“I grew up in an era when Monaghan weren’t competing in Division One, it’s been a fantastic lift for people in the county and a fantastic source of pride.

“In normal circumstances when you’re playing against the Dublins, the Kerrys and you can follow your team around the country, that gives people a great sense of achievement and a sense of belonging. It can unite a county, so it’s really important from that point of view.

“From the players’ perspective, you want to be testing yourself against the best and the best place to do that is Division One.

“It was a shock to the system for some players going back into full contact training, we picked up a few small niggles along the way but overall we’re blessed - we’ve got a fantastic backroom team and a fantastic medical team who have really helped us manage players’ loads.”

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