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Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke thrilled to see his side make breakthrough

By Declan Bogue

Nice fella, Malachy O'Rourke. One of the nicest in football, truth be told. The same in victory as in defeat, a beaming smile never far away that shows that it's only a game.

Only for a free-kicking mess, he might have been an Anglo-Celt winning manager before now, having dragged Fermanagh to this stage in 2008.

It didn't happen for him then, but it happened here.

He took on the biggest brains in football and beat them hands down. Sometimes, nice guys get the girls, too.

And in typical fashion, he wasn't volunteering himself for glorification afterwards.

"It's not about me," he said to reporters afterwards.

"It's a great day and you're delighted when you're working with a group and it comes.

"It's more for the boys. I'm lucky I came in this year and it worked out for us."

Paying tribute to those that filled his role in previous years he added: "Eamonn McEneaney was there for two years, Banty (Seamus McEnaney) was there for five... there's a massive amount of work that's gone in with them boys behind the scenes.

"I'm just privileged to find myself here when the boys made the breakthrough.

"They deserve it."

We had never seen Donegal chase a lead like this and they looked out of practice when it happened.

Getting their own tails up early was a priority for Monaghan, according to O'Rourke.

"We felt early on that Donegal, I suppose like in the All-Ireland final, they might have put in high ball in and try to blitz us early so we just wanted to make sure we didn't let them get a start on us.

"We were keen to get a start so that they would have to chase the game."

So much is said about the deliberate work carried out in Donegal and how they rehearse scenarios to perfection.

But Monaghan had three weeks to prepare for this and got everything spot on.

It was an incredible coaching job by O'Rourke.

"After the last match, we got our match-ups and it just gave the boys a bit of time to think about what they had to do," he explained.

He continued: "Donegal have been a superb team and their system is great but we just felt if we got our performance right we could test Donegal.

"We said all along we would be competitive and the boys had beaten Donegal before.

"It was a different Donegal team but there was great belief there.

"A lot of small things have to come together and the boys had to be mentally tough.

"When Donegal came back we had to keep our composure and not doing anything silly.

"We had to be disciplined."

With only three yellow cards, they were discipline personified. But their secret is out.

Now, they are contenders for the big one.

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