Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Monaghan manager O'Rourke is wary of a Donegal backlash

Final pointer: Malachy O’Rourke won’t underestimate Donegal
Final pointer: Malachy O’Rourke won’t underestimate Donegal

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke has warned his players of the part psychology will play in the run-up to tomorrow's Ulster final.

The Fermanagh schoolteacher maintains: "Donegal were beaten in the final last year and will maybe feel that they were caught on the hop a bit and didn't play their best football.

"They turned the tables on us big style in the early rounds of the league and then we beat them in the league final. They have been well warned, they are coming in a lot fresher with players a lot fitter.

"No doubt it's a massive battle for us, Donegal are in good shape so it will be interesting."

In last year's final, Monaghan had a springboard of an early 0-5 to 0-0 lead to build upon, and realise that Donegal will not wish to be as charitable again.

"I know with Donegal it was an area we concentrated on last year," O'Rourke said.

"Donegal are so good at setting up, if you are chasing a game and have to attack they are very good at setting up a defensive wall and if you push too many men up they will catch you on the counter attack.

"They're very good at that. When they get a bit of a lead it obviously makes that easier. Both teams will be looking for a good start. One of us won't get that and it's a case of seeing how you can break down defensive systems after that."

Monaghan have the advantage of coming through two tough games against Armagh, but O'Rourke insisted that they did not take the Orchardmen for granted in the first, drawn game.

"Within the camp we certainly haven't been complacent and the boys were well warned. Maybe if they hadn't been as well warned we could have been caught on the day.

"The fact that we didn't play well but were leading by three points with five minutes left showed that mentally we were alright. That's what we flagged up. Beating Tyrone was a big thing, there was such euphoria about it.

"It was hard to get back to that level of intensity. We might have caught Donegal on the hop last year, we certainly won't catch them on the hop this year."

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