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O'Rourke has Monaghan fired up for a semi-final surge


Enniskillen schoolteacher Malachy O'Rourke may be enjoying his summer vacation away from the classroom yet his spare time is at a premium.

O'Rourke's total focus just now is on bringing the Monaghan side which he manages into the All-Ireland semi-finals, a destination they have never managed to reach despite their enhanced status in Ulster over the course of recent years.

It is a measure of O'Rourke's current standing in the sphere of inter-county management that if he were to find himself a free agent then Down and Cavan would surely come knocking at his door.

O'Rourke is determined to see his side overcome Galway tomorrow week and move to within two steps of getting their hands on the All-Ireland crown.

And even though Galway are already through to the semi-finals, O'Rourke is acutely aware that Kevin Walsh will have his side primed for duty against his Farney outfit in their bid to avoid Dublin in the semi-finals.

"Galway will be looking to put in a big performance and finish top of our group," he insists.

As things stand Dublin will play Galway or Monaghan or Kerry in the first semi-final at Croke Park on Saturday, August 11 (5pm) while Galway or Monaghan will play Tyrone or Donegal in the second semi-final, also at Croke Park, on Sunday, August 12 (3.30pm).

"We feel that if we get our own performance right we have a chance against any side and that includes Galway," he says.

"We have proved we are able to be competitive against top teams such as Kerry who are one of the favourites for the All-Ireland. The challenge is to put in a big performance against Galway. We have our hearts set on reaching the semi-finals."

Kerry meet Kildare tomorrow week knowing victory could still thrust them into contention for a last four place.

Belfast Telegraph