Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Find of season McManus can have final say for Monaghan

As sometimes happens in football, your reputation can grow when you don’t play and suddenly a player is greater while injured and not playing!

This match was more about how Monaghan look as real Ulster Championship contenders rather than ever questioning the result against a very sub-standard Fermanagh team.

The Monaghan reputation has grown and grown. In sharp contrast, Fermanagh are a shadow of the team they were three years

ago when they should have won an Ulster title and their experienced players, like Marty McGrath, Mark Lyttle and Rory Gallagher, are unrecognisable.

Monaghan are indeed the real deal this year with the rejuvenated Dick Clerkin and Damien Freeman very much to the fore.

Clerkin was always a tough cookie but this year his confidence has grown so much that he now dominates matches and also scores while Freeman relishes the free role as he showed by incessantly running at Fermanagh, causing no end of trouble.

Monaghan have added steel to their play and also a little bit of cynicism in regularly blocking off the running man.

They are also ruthless on the line and make decisions for the good of the team, not the individual.

They make common sense substitutions like that of Gollogy yesterday when he may have been red carded with Monaghan were in total control.

They also have acquired a mental toughness, in that they never took the foot off the pedal.

This was a potential banana skin against a team that they had previously performed poorly against. Perhaps, Fermanagh were much better then but certainly Monaghan are more improved now.

What they do superbly now, is that they work hard defensively from the front.

Their half forward line are much more industrious than before but will probably need to add scores to their game as they advance.

However, in the full forward line, Monaghan have few peers. Conor McManus is the find of the championship. He poses a continual threat especially as he always makes himself available and is a great foil for Tomas Freeman who formerly had to win the difficult ball and then score.

The mouth-watering final everyone expected is now on. Two teams vastly superior to the others will contest the Anglo-Celt. They are evenly matched and play a free-flowing 15-man style of football. It has all the makings of a classic.

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