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O'Rourke faces up to daunting task

By John Campbell

The prospect of meeting Dublin either in the Leinster championship or All-Ireland series this summer has been enough to make even the most focused team tremble.

Managers and players – when permitted, that is – will go through the motions of talking up their team's chances but, deep down, they know that Jim Gavin's juggernaut, barring some inconceivable twist of fate, is destined to roll on.

In their three championship matches to date against Laois, Wexford and Meath, Dublin have scored a massive 7-66.

Imagine, then, the thoughts of Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke who is also likely to be without both first-choice midfielders for tomorrow's All-Ireland quarter-final against the Dubs – and minus any real cover on his bench.

Last year's captain Owen Lennon has been missing because of injury while the abrasive Dick Clerkin, the type of player perhaps best suited to ruffling Dublin's feathers in the middle third of the park, could miss the game because of bruising to his tibia bone.

With his engine-room selection options trimmed, O'Rourke may pair Darren Hughes, not quite at his best, and the willing Gavin Doogan as his starting formation.

Their daunting brief will be to curb the normally significant influence wielded by Michael Darragh Macauley, rated the best midfielder in the country right now, and the highly capable Cian O'Sullivan.

Manager O'Rourke, though, believes Monaghan's tenacity, spirit and doggedness can stand them in good stead.

"I felt that hard work got us over the line against Kildare and we will need more of the same this time out," asserts O'Rourke.

Belfast Telegraph


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