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Taking on my native county is just business, insists O'Rourke

 

By Declan Bogue

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke has insisted Saturday night is strictly business when he faces his native Fermanagh in the Ulster Championship preliminary round (Clones, 7pm).

O'Rourke famously managed Fermanagh for three years, forcing Armagh to an Ulster final replay in 2008, and played for a decade for the Ernemen.

However, having won two Ulster titles with Monaghan, he admits to a connection there also.

"I have said that before, the fact I grew up in Fermanagh, I played under-age and senior football with Fermanagh and managed Fermanagh, obviously there is still an emotional attachment there," he stated.

"But it gets easier over the years. This is my fifth year with Monaghan and the fact that the players give such commitment, you are so much involved there. Now there is an emotional attachment there too. At this stage it's just like business and you try to do your best for Monaghan."

Along with Dublin's Jim Gavin, who is also in his fifth season, O'Rourke is the second longest-serving inter-county manager in the game behind Mickey Harte, who is in his 15th.

Under his guidance, Monaghan were promoted twice in his first two league campaigns and have established themselves over the last three seasons as a solid Division One outfit.

In that time they also won two Ulster titles - his first coming in his maiden season in charge, 2013.

Last year's Championship exit, in a replay against Donegal, along with a chastening qualifiers defeat to Longford has left his players hungry for battle.

"The three previous years we had got to the Ulster final each year, we were just used to it. Last year was a wee bit of a jolt and I suppose it made us realise how lucky we were to be in the three Ulster finals in a row," added O'Rourke.

"It shows you how quickly the thing can turn sour and how quickly it can end."

Belfast Telegraph

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