Monaghan ace Mac takes some comfort in award
Monaghan may have had their Ulster title aspirations left in ruins by Fermanagh last weekend, but there is a modicum of consolation for sharpshooter Conor McManus as he has become the latest winner of the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers Association monthly merit award.
McManus picked up the accolade for his stunning showing in Monaghan's 1-18 to 1-16 defeat of Tyrone at the quarter-final stage of the Ulster Championship.
It was his spectacular long-range point from a seemingly impossible angle far out on the touchline that helped add polish to what was a famous Monaghan victory and, while delighted to have been honoured by the writers, McManus is quick to hail what he describes as "a fantastic team performance".
He goes on: "I was glad to see that particular shot go over the bar because it gave us a bit of a cushion at the juncture.
"While it is great for me to win the monthly merit award, it was also extremely satisfying to see Monaghan come out on top in that game through a fantastic team performance.
"Of course, since then we have fallen to Fermanagh which is not so good."
While Monaghan are now forced to enter the qualifiers, there is still a belief that they can progress through to the new Super 8s in the latter stages of the All-Ireland.
"Obviously we would like to still be in the Ulster Championship but we are where we are, and now we have to knuckle down and try and make as much progress through the qualifiers as we can," adds McManus.
Among the candidates for the latest writers' honour were Antrim hurler Nigel Elliott, Fermanagh playmaker Declan McCusker and McManus' Monaghan colleague Fintan Kelly.
McManus received an engraved Belleek Living Vase, hand crafted silver cuff links from Carlingford Design House, training gear from O'Neill's International Sportswear and two tickets to the next UGAAWA annual awards dinner as his award package.
Meanwhile, Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke is strongly focused on seeing his side make an impact in the All-Ireland qualifiers as a possible prelude to their participation in the Super 8s.
O'Rourke, who formerly played for and managed Fermanagh, was bitterly disappointed when the Ernesiders got the better of his team in Omagh last Sunday.
"The defeat means that we have now lost three Ulster Championship semi-finals in a row," says O'Rourke.
"But this team is resilient and we will now summon all our experience for the qualifiers," he adds.