Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney thought long and hard last winter before committing himself to a fifth year in charge of the side.
However, when he succeeded in bringing former Armagh No2 Paul Grimley on board his backroom team, this as much as anything else convinced him that he should enter the trenches once again.
Grimley’s reputation as a coach and tactician coupled with Martin McElkennon’s progressive training methods have now helped to bring a whole new dimension to Monaghan’s style of play.
And no one is more delighted than McEnaney himself who believes that the time is now right for his side to make a big statement tomorrow.
“I am very fortunate indeed to have Paul and Martin on board my management team. I could not have two better people with me in every sense. Their input has been superb and I think that the team will illustrate the work that has been done with them tomorrow when the chips are down,” maintains McEnaney.
Grimley’s link-up with Monaghan came in rather surprising circumstances as he had been freely tipped to succeed Peter McDonnell as Armagh boss prior to Paddy O’Rourke being parachuted into that post. But Grimley, who lives in Armagh city and is hoping to see his county beat Dublin today, is now Monaghan through and through — in a football sense at least.
“You cannot but be influenced by the enthusiasm of Seamus McEnaney — the man eats, drinks and sleeps Monaghan football. Now that the team is in the final we want to make sure that they go all the way and land the title. They have the experience, the skill and the attitude to win and if they can get a couple of decent breaks along the way tomorrow so much the better,” maintains Grimley.
Ballygawley man McElkennon is acknowledged as one of Ulster’s leading fitness gurus and his progressive training methods have helped to bring Monaghan to concert pitch. But rather than take credit for this McElkennon deflects the praise onto the players.
“Their response has been superb. They have been making great sacrifices along the line and I hope they get a reward for this tomorrow. Indeed, I would hope that this is not the only reward that might come their way this year,” says McElkennon pointedly.
Living in Tyrone he has an intimate knowledge of the strengths of tomorrow’s opponents but remains focused totally on what he sees as the considerable attributes within the Monaghan side.
“These boys are prepared to work their socks off for each other. They have shown in their two games in the championship to date against Armagh and Fermanagh that they have great energy and scoring power but we know that the biggest test they will face this year to date comes tomorrow,” admits McElkennon.