Conor McManus injury casts shadow for Malachy O'Rourke
If Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke experienced mixed emotions in taking delivery of the Ulster GAA Writers' Association monthly merit award for April this week, then it is entirely understandable.
While O'Rourke is clearly delighted to be recognised for his team's achievement in securing promotion to Division One and winning the Division Two title by beating Donegal, he is clearly discomfited by the loss of star forward Conor McManus for the Ulster championship quarter-final against Tyrone or Down next month.
McManus sustained ankle and knee injuries while playing for Clontibret at the weekend and while the knocks are not quite as bad as were first thought, nevertheless the free-scoring forward will be out "for six to eight weeks" according to O'Rourke.
"Obviously this has cast a bit of a shadow over the award which the writers gave me but we must go forward with what we have," states O'Rourke.
"Conor has been playing exceptionally well and is a big loss. He will be out for six to eight weeks and then he has to get back up to full championship fitness again."
Certainly McManus showed superb form in the league during which O'Rourke's managerial skills were very much in evident as Monaghan sent out a sharp warning that they will be difficult to separate from their Ulster title.
"While I was presented with the award, I see it more as a tribute for what the team achieved in the league," says Enniskillen schoolteacher O'Rourke.
McManus is not the only injury concern which confronts O'Rourke at the moment as Owen Lennon and Stephen Gollogly are understood to be receiving treatment for knocks.