GAA Football

O'Rourke links won't give Glen edge says Scotstown stalwart Darren Hughes

Darren Hughes will renew acquaintances with former Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke when Scotstown face Glen at Celtic Park on Sunday. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Neil Loughran

MALACHY O’Rourke might have instilled the confidence that helped Glen get across the line in Derry – but Scotown stalwart Darren Hughes doesn’t believe his former manager’s inside knowledge will matter when the Monaghan champions face the Maghera men on Sunday.

During a hugely successful stint in charge of the Farney County, O’Rourke led Monaghan to Ulster title triumphs in 2013 and 2015, with An Bhoth stars such as Hughes, his brother Kieran, Allstar goalkeeper Rory Beggan, Shane Carey and Conor McCarthy playing key roles during that period.

At Celtic Park, though, O’Rourke will be plotting their demise as Glen bid to reach an Ulster semi-final in their first crack at the provincial crown, having edged beyond Donegal kingpins St Eunan’s in the preliminary round.

Hughes knows exactly what the former Farney boss and his assistant Ryan Porter will have brought to the Watty Graham’s, but feels any suggestion he holds the upper hand going into Sunday’s clash has been overplayed.

“I don’t think it’ll have any impact, us knowing what Malachy can do or vice-versa,” said the 34-year-old.

“In fairness, if any club coach or manager is worth their salt, they should have the opposition well sussed. Obviously he might know different wee things, weaknesses or that, but I don’t think it’ll have a major impact.

“He’ll be looking at us as a team, as a whole, looking at our strengths and where he has to maybe put out a few fires, and then look at potential weaknesses to see where he could exploit. That was always a strength with Monaghan, and more often than not we got them match-ups right.

“Ryan gets the best out of Malachy and Ryan gets the best out of Malachy. Ryan would’ve had time to really condition fellas and you can see that on some of them – their half-back line’s very powerful – and then Malachy would’ve been instilling the belief in them, telling them how good they were and that they were good enough to win a Derry championship. Obviously they followed through with that.

“They probably always knew they had the players after so much underage success but after losing to Magherafelt a few years ago, they were maybe thinking would they ever get over the line. Conor Glass coming back has had a big impact on the team, and with Malachy leading it, they were able to get there.”

The manner in which they swept beyond reigning champions and neighbours Slaughtneil in the Derry decider saw Glen installed as joint favourites – alongside Kilmacud Croke’s - for the All-Ireland club title, before they had even made their bow in Ulster.

And while most were shocked at the one-sided nature of that decider, Monaghan’s Scotstown contingent could see their former manager’s stamp all over the performance.

“They’d done their homework on the day. It was no surprise to us, knowing Malachy and Ryan and how they prepare teams for big games.

“But them boys still have to go out and play and they’ve done that. Against St Eunan’s it was probably their first tight game of the year and they came through it, so it was a testament to them and shows they’re in a good place.

“It’s alright winning games easy but when there’s questions asked of you in the last five or 10 minutes you have to show you can come up with the goods.”

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GAA Football