Beggan not to blame for Kerry defeat insists Monaghan's Conor McManus
IT was probably the last place Conor McManus wanted to be, but his good nature saw him out on the field at Grattan Park long after the curtain had come down on a hugely disappointing day at the office for Monaghan.
Starstruck young supporters flocked around the Clontribret ace for photos or signed jerseys while he was still trying to digest an eight point defeat to Kerry.
One Kingdom fan said she didn't care if she missed the bus home as long as she got a picture with McManus, while another came back for a second shot because his eyes were closed in the original. Arm around the shoulder, smile, job done - another happy camper.
But as the crowd tailed off, there was no escaping the harsh reality of what just happened. There can't have been too many days when Conor McManus scored 1-3 and finished up on the losing side, but his late penalty was little consolation on the day after a second half shocker plunged the Farneymen into relegation bother.
Three Kerry goals after the break extinguished Monaghan hopes, the second of which saw sweeper 'keeper Rory Beggan marooned around midway after a Darren Hughes pass was intercepted, with the deadly David Clifford poking into an empty net.
Some might say it was only a matter of time until Monaghan and Beggan paid the price for his forays up the field, but McManus was quick to offer some perspective on an afternoon in Inniskeen best banished from the memory bank.
“Yeah, look, I wouldn't necessarily blame Rory,” said the 34-year-old.
“We were probably chasing the game a wee bit at the start of the second half, Rory was coming up to provide that extra link, that extra man, the ball was intercepted and in the back of the net, and that was probably the game over at that stage.
“Things went from bad to worse in the second half, we wanted to bring a bit more energy and a bit more bite to it than we had in the first. We had the wind and we didn't really use it, then went in three points down at half-time.
“They sat in and dispossessed us for the goals, so it was a disappointing day at the office. We had performed reasonably well in our three games up to here without getting a win, we were hoping for a performance today.
“There's three games left now, we have a break for a week, and hopefully we can get ready for that. We have time to work on things, we have plenty to work on, and we'll see what two weeks does for us.”
When Sean O'Shea's effort dropped over the head of back-pedalling Beggan for Kerry's third goal, the Kingdom led by 13 with 13 minutes to play.
The Farney, to their credit, landed 1-4 to cut the gap to eight at the end – and with away games against Donegal and Kildare away before the Division One finale at home to struggling Dublin, score difference could come into play in the bid to avoid the drop.
“Well that's it,” said McManus, “you just have to keep plugging away in these games and try and keep the scoreboard keeping as best you can.
“Division One's tough, we've seen that already. If you're not at your best you're going to be punished and that has happened us the last number of weeks in games we probably should've won and didn't.”