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Monaghan boss Malachy Donaghy happy to get hands dirty

By John Campbell

When Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke informed the relatively unknown Padraig Donaghy 24 hours before the Ulster final that he would be starting against Donegal, he was not quite prepared for the intensity of the player's response.

"That's all right," said Donaghy. "I'm just going to die in the jersey."

Since the game, Donaghy's unparalleled bravery, almost frightening at times, has been cited as one of the reasons the All-Ireland champions were so discomfited.

This performance, too, came from a player whose name was the last to be included on the Farney team sheet in the official match programme thus: 'No 26 Padraig Donaghy'.

But the 25-year-old Donaghmoyne clubman made the quantum leap from obscurity to sporting hero with aplomb.

Only drafted into the Farney squad this year, Donaghy had been sent on along with Dick Clerkin for the closing phase of the semi-final win over Cavan.

He may only have been on the pitch for a short while but his up-and-at-'em approach clearly inspired his colleagues.

"I'm only new to this level," explains Donaghy. "When I was sent on from the bench against Cavan, it was a massive boost for me.

"Then when the manager told me I was in from the start against Donegal it was just unbelievable – I was in shock but I soon got over it and got stuck in.

"We won't fear anyone now," he declares. "Why should we? We are as good as any team – sure we have beaten the All-Ireland champions."

Donaghy certainly gladdens his manager's heart with the following pronouncement: "I just want to be where the ball is. I went along to a trial and the next thing I knew I had been called into the squad. Now I'm preparing for an All-Ireland quarter-final – sure the whole thing is just a dream for me but I'm loving it."

Very few players in the modern game relish being handed the task of winning 'dirty ball'.

In other words, becoming immersed in the physically demanding close exchanges with the express purpose of somehow or other emerging with the ball and perhaps a few scars to show for their efforts.

But clearly the ebullient Donaghy is a different animal.

"I don't mind going in there to win the dirty ball. Sure that's what it is all about," he states.

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