Belfast Telegraph

Declan Bogue: Monaghan ready to turn back the clock with McEnaney

Disproving the theory that one should never go back to the scene of previous triumphs will be of utmost concern to Seamus McEnaney as Monaghan get ready to name their next manager.

Of course, McEnaney never wanted to leave the first time, asking for an extension of his period in charge of his county. But after a ‘stormy' county board meeting (are there any other type?) it seemed there was an appetite for change among the club delegates.

Hindsight is 20-20 vision, but nobody could have foreseen the fortunes of Monaghan drifting in the dispiriting fashion over the past two years. Successive relegations, and defeat in the Championship to Tyrone, Offaly, Down and Laois have forced a revision of Banty's abilities.

That's not to say that Eamonn McEneaney was a poor coach. When he took over, he inherited a panel that were jaded from too many years on the road, with not enough rotation of the panel and wedded to a strict gameplan that was shown to be inadequate when Tyrone took them apart in the Ulster finals of 2007 and 2010.

Eamonn introduced Drew Wylie, Mark Keogh and Karl O'Connell to the defence, refined Dick Clerkin's midfield game, and brought along James Turley and Pete Dooney to freshen up the attack. The panel welcomed a new voice after six seasons with Banty. It did no harm.

But after two years and only five wins, there is only so long you can go on cursing your luck. Under Banty, Monaghan made it to the top flight and be

came competitive, a contender in any year.

It has been said in Monaghan that the board would prefer an outside man. Two names that strangely have not been made public but are said to be under consideration are former Fermanagh manager Malachy O'Rourke and Down selector Aidan O'Rourke.

With Monaghan players having some input into the selection of the next manager, it is believed they favour a return of Banty.

It is thought by some that following an unsuccessful period with a county, the way forward is to employ the services of an outside man. The records of the four All-Ireland semi-finalists however would show that no matter how low you think you are in the league and Championship standings, anything can be achieved with a young, bright manager from within your own boundaries.

Banty may not be necessarily be ‘new wave' but he brings a brilliant track record with Monaghan and a streak of determination as evidenced at Meath. He is a master delegator, and crucially is aware of his limitations.

But could he be the victim of GAA politics? We wait and see.

Belfast Telegraph


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