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O'Rourke can lead us to greater things: Beggan

By John Campbell

Fermanagh schoolteacher Malachy O'Rourke is clearly rated top of the class - in Monaghan.

O'Rourke's decision to remain in charge of the Oriel side for at least another year has been enthusiastically hailed within a county that has won the Ulster title twice within the last three years but has yet to make a major impact in the All-Ireland Championship.

When Monaghan lost to Longford in the All-Ireland qualifiers following their exit from the Ulster Championship at the hands of Donegal in a semi-final replay, O'Rourke indicated that he would take time out to consider his future.

His subsequent confirmation that he would continue in his role has continued to spark optimism that Monaghan can hit the high spots in 2017 starting with next month's Dr McKenna Cup in which they have been bracketed with St Mary's, Antrim and Fermanagh in Section B.

Goalkeeper Rory Beggan believes that O'Rourke's commitment to Monaghan will inspire the squad even though experienced duo Paul Finlay and Dick Clerkin have retired.

"You are always going to have retirements and players moving on but it's great that Malachy has committed to us again. It's the best news we could have received. He deserved to get a little time out to consider it but it has been all systems go since he revealed he is staying on board," stated Beggan.

"The McKenna Cup is the first competition of the year and it's a great chance to blow the cobwebs out from the winter season. New players will get the chance to come in and show Malachy what they can do and that's what it's all about in January.

"We have lost players but there is plenty of talent within Monaghan and I think people will see proof of this as we move along. Malachy is a great motivator and is very good at getting the best out of people. The important thing as far as we are concerned is to get a good league campaign behind us in readiness for the Championship.

"We have won the Ulster title a couple of times in recent years but naturally we as players want to build on this and we feel that Malachy is the man to help us do this.

"Obviously there is terrific enthusiasm for football in Monaghan and we are desperately keen to give the fans something really big to cheer about if we can."

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