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Martin settling into new role with Monaghan

By John Campbell

Martin McElkennon has spent the past two weeks getting to know the Monaghan county playing squad - and he is now convinced that he made the right decision in throwing in his lot with manager Seamus McEnaney.

McElkennon, who was in charge of Cavan last year, has been entrusted with the coaching duties by McEnaney and is already fired with optimism as Monaghan map out their plans for the Dr McKenna Cup.

"I'm delighted with the initial response of the players. It's certainly very encouraging and obviously we would hope to step up things as we go along," says McElkennon, a PE teacher in St Ciaran's Hs Ballygawley where Tyrone boss Mickey Harte was a former staff room colleague.

McElkennon, who took over the Cavan reins when Eamon Coleman became ill, admits that McEnaney's persuasive tongue resulted in his arrival in the Farney county.

"Seamus made an opening approach to me but came back three or four times and in the end I just could not say no. I certainly have no regrets so far and I just hope that I can justify the faith and confidence that he has been showing in me," says McElkennon.

The loss of influential utility player Dick Clerkin for the opening months of 2007 is a blow, McElkennon admits.

"No county can afford to do without experienced players for any part of the year but we will just have to get on with it. Hopefully Dick will return from Finland for the Ulster Championship, he will certainly be welcomed back into the fold I would imagine," maintains McElkennon.

And the former Cavan boss is particularly encouraged by the groundswell of goodwill within Monaghan.

"There is absolutely that if this team begin to get a few decent results back to back then the fans will come out to support them. There is tremendous interest in football within the county and I would just love to see the team do well not for my sake but for the sake of Seamus McEnaney who is an absolutely dedicated football man. To say that his enthusiasm is infectious would be something of an understatement," smiles McElkennon.

Meanwhile, tomorrow's Central Council meeting is expected to debate the International Rules series but no firm decision on the continuing link with the Australian Football League is anticipated.

Instead, a decision is likely to be put on hold.

It seems that just about everyone within the GAA has had their say on the violence that marred the second Rules test last month but the outpouring of disgust was tempered when a survey of leading players indicated that many of them are in favour of seeing the series extended.

It's not to often that the views of players are taken into account on major issues but it would appear that the players opinions on this matter do actually count for something.

However, that does not disguise the fact that there are a number of aspects of the Rules to be addressed.

It is expected that top-ranking GAA officials and AFL chiefs will meet in Dubai next month during the Allstars tour there for general discussions.

Belfast Telegraph


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