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Monaghan to the four on All-Star list

By Declan Bogue

Four All-Star nominations for Monaghan is a strong indication that people sat up and took note of their progression in 2013, despite losing their Ulster crown, says Conor McManus.

Yesterday, the 25-year-old sales rep was named as one of the 45 on the longlist for the 2014 All-Stars, along with team-mates Rory Beggan, Drew Wylie and Dessie Mone.

It capped a brilliant few days for McManus, who won the Monaghan county title on Sunday when Clontibret O'Neill's defeated defending champions Scotstown.

"It's decent enough recognition, once you are nominated," said the Monaghan captain at the launch of the Ulster club championship.

"And it shows that Monaghan probably have had a decent enough year, the fact that there are four lads nominated shows that it didn't go unnoticed."

After a mixed season in which Monaghan reclaimed their place in Division One with a league final win over Donegal, McManus feels the sense of their county season requires some revision.

"We probably played better this year than we did last year in the Ulster Championship but we didn't get a prize out of it at the end of the day," he said.

"We had better performances and better wins; we beat Tyrone in the Championship. Then we went on to draw with Armagh and beat them in the replay. And we beat Kildare at Croke Park.

"We probably performed better this year than we did last year, but ultimately we didn't get the silverware out of it."

On Sunday, McManus hit 1-6, his goal from the penalty spot along with two frees and a converted '45' as Clontibret avenged their 15-point loss to Scotstown in last year's final. They got through by the narrowest of margins, and he revealed that, after last year's loss, the club looked deep within themselves to see what they needed.

He said: "When you get beat in a county final and beat in the manner we did, you have to look at things and try to do things differently. To be fair to the management they did and they took a different approach.

"We were back working earlier this year, we did a lot of physical work in the gym, got ourselves into fair condition. I think that shone through in the last 15 minutes on Sunday."

They are now in the preliminary round of the Ulster club, away to Down champions Kilcoo on October 19. They enter their fifth Ulster club campaign in nine season, yet still they will be wary in going up against one of the favourites in 'The Magpies'.

"Kilcoo, it's their third Championship in a row, everybody knows how hard it is to win a senior Championship and they won easily, won pulling up on Sunday," acknowledged McManus of their 16-point triumph over Burren.

"They are going in as one of the favourites so we realise what we are going up against."

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