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Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke is quick to hail predecessors

By John Campbell

He may be on the cusp of even greater things with his rejuvenated Monaghan side but manager Malachy O'Rourke needs no reminding as to where the credit should lie for the county's renaissance.

While O'Rourke himself has been quite rightly showered with plaudits for his shrewd tactical planning that jettisoned Donegal's ambitions of landing three Ulster titles on the trot on Sunday, the Enniskillen-based schoolteacher believes that the foundations for Monaghan's overdue success were actually laid by others.

And in this respect O'Rourke delivers garlands of his own to the county's most recent managers, Eamonn McEnaney and Seamus McEnaney.

"These two men put in a massive amount of work with the Monaghan squad behind the scenes," states O'Rourke, "Eamonn was there for two years and Seamus was there for six and they laid the groundwork for this title success.

"I am privileged to have come in at this particular time and helped the team to make the breakthrough but a lot of credit must go to my predecessors.

"The players themselves put in an amount of work that was unreal and they thoroughly deserve what they have achieved."

O'Rourke clearly had taken stock of Monaghan's performances in the Ulster finals of 2007 and 2010 in which they were beaten by Tyrone and placed a strong focus on ensuring that his team got off to a good start. We wanted to make sure that we hit the ground running and prevent Donegal stealing a march on us," reveals O'Rourke.

And just as he paid a handsome tribute to the two former managers, O'Rourke's glowing testament was echoed by star forward Conor McManus in recalling the contribution of recently-retired players to Monaghan's cause.

"This win is not just about the players who were out on the field but about those who did their bit over the years to help fashion the side," maintains McManus.

"Boys like Gary McQuaid, John Paul Mone, Dermot McArdle and Damien Freeman gave ferocious commitment to Monaghan and helped to take us to where we are at today.

"It's a great pity that they were not involved in this Ulster title win but I have no doubt that it will bring them great satisfaction nonetheless."

McManus is urging Monaghan fans to "stick with us" as the side focusses on their All Ireland quarter-final on the weekend after next. The identity of their opponents will be revealed in next Monday's draw and like the rest of his colleagues McManus will be happy to take whatever is put before the team.

"We will be keeping a very open mind. It's just great to see the name of Monaghan going into that quarter-final bowl. Obviously there are some very strong sides still in the mix but we will take confidence from this win over Donegal and that could take us further down the line," says McManus.

"The fans were terrific on Sunday and I hope that they stick with us. Maybe we will be able to provide them with more memories!"

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