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McEnaney eyes trophy route

By John Campbell

Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney believes that the route one policy which has taken Kerry to the last two All Ireland titles could be here to stay.

As his squad focus on the start of the Gaelic Life Dr McKenna Cup, McEnaney is acutely aware that style is currently enjoying the upper hand on systems in a gaelic football context.

"When you look at the way in which Tyrone won their All Ireland titles in 2003 and 2005 you note that they got a lot of players back behind the ball, defended well and broke quickly by transferring the ball smoothly to each other," points out McEnaney, "But then you fast-forward to Kerry's win in 2006 and their win again this year and you see a team who played the first-time ball into a big full-forward (Ciaran Donaghy) who proved the perfect target-man."

The preoccupation with defence in recent years has evoked criticism from many quarters but Tyrone manager Mickey Harte remains unapologetic.

His team's dual success in 2003 and '05 signalled their arrival as one of the current superpowers of football but while other teams have attempted to replicate their game-plan, there is now a swing to the 'Kerry way'.

Monaghan boss McEnaney recognises this - and so does his trainer Martin McElkennon.

The latter has also trained Fermanagh and Cavan in the recent past and is regarded as one of the leading fitness experts within the GAA.

And last night he emphasised that Monaghan will again place strong emphasis on physical awareness and fitness as they target success in 2008.

"While it was great to get to the closing stages of the All Ireland series this year, we felt we could have done better. I think the players themselves showed just what levels of fitness they could reach and now they want to hit a new peak next year. No matter what particular policy a team adopts, physical strength, pace and power are still essential attributes for success," insists McElkennon.

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