You won’t get Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney trumpeting his team’s Ulster Championship prospects from the rooftops.
McEnaney, whose side will meet the winners of Sunday’s Derry v Armagh Ulster preliminary round tie in the first round proper next month, instead prefers to dwell on the attributes of his management team of Paul Grimley, Martin McElkennon and Adrian Trappe as he prepares for what could be his last provincial Championship at the helm of the Farney county.
When Derry beat Monaghan in the first round last year and then repeated the dose in the All Ireland Qualifiers, these were two particularly bitter pills for the energetic McEnaney to swallow.
He thought long and hard before committing himself to Monaghan again but right now the adrenaline is flowing as he contemplates a Championship campaign in tandem with a backroom team that he rates “one of the best around.”
McEnaney has already credited renowned Cookstown fitness guru McElkennon with having changed the mindset of the Monaghan players while Grimley, rated as favourite to take over as Armagh boss before Paddy O’Rourke was surprisingly parachuted into the post, has already created a huge impression with the Monaghan players and fans.
“Martin has brought the Monaghan players to an exceptional level of fitness and Paul’s tactical take is second to none while I have been working with Adrian at club and county level for 12 years and we dovetail well,” insists McEnaney. “I feel as an overall management team we have a combination of talents that might help bring success and I would be very encouraged by our National League campaign.”
Although Monaghan only managed to retain their Division One status by the skin of their teeth, McEnaney insists that they had “the best spell we had in the league for about 20 years.”
And he goes on to explain: “We got the opportunity to play against teams like Cork, Kerry, Tyrone and Galway and we feel this has brought us on a lot. We are delighted to have kept our place in the top tier but now we have to prove our worth in the Championship.
“I will be at Celtic Park and I know that whoever wins the game there will be serious opponents for us next month. My players are aware of just how difficult it will be to win the Ulster Championship but I would have to say that the mood in our camp could not be better.”