Clarke will be keen to pass on potential
A decade ago Ronan Clarke was basking in the title of Young Footballer of the Year.
The then 20-year-old Armagh ace had just pocketed an All-Ireland senior medal and having graduated through the same college team as Sean Cavanagh, was being spoken about as a long-term fixture in the orchard county attack.
But recurring injuries were to disrupt Clarke's career to the extent that he was unable to capitalise fully on the enormous potential he had initially shown.
When a troublesome heel injury forced Clarke to prematurely call time on his playing career, he turned his attention to fitness and coaching. And today the Pearse Og clubman once again has his sights set on championship glory – but in a totally different environment.
He is now part of the Monaghan Harps club's management team and having overcome Doohamlet in the county championship, hopes are high that the side can further deliver on the promise they are showing when they meet Ballybay in the next round.
Managed by Paddy Kelly, the Harps side is one of half-a-dozen being touted as possible county champions and this as much as anything else indicates the competitive level of the competition.
"I must say I am enjoying my involvement, " says Clarke, "The players are eager to improve and that's always a good sign. Given Monaghan's progress this year when they won the Ulster title and reached the closing stages of the All Ireland series there is tremendous interest in football within the county and this is reflected in the passion that the domestic championship has engendered."
Clarke is not the only prominent 'outsider' who is having a role to play on the Monaghan scene. Scotstown, with the Hughes brothers Darren and Ciaran very much to the fore, have already laid down a marker that they have the title in their sights and this is due in no small measure to the influence of manager Mattie McGlennon.