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Rory Beggan getting his kicks at Monaghan

By Declan Bogue

On Sunday night, the Sunday Game analyst Kevin McStay examined the contribution of Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan.

He won the man of the match award, but in terms of actually tending goal he was only forced into one save, and that was pelted straight at him from close-range. "It's a nice life," McStay joked.

Yet, the 22-year-old Business student at Jordanstown adorned this game with an almost flawless display of dead-ball kicking, ending up as the game's top-scorer with five converted frees, the first time that has happened with a goalkeeper in an Ulster Championship match.

The paradox is that he perhaps would not be taking the frees if it weren't for an injury to his Scotstown clubmate Darren Hughes, who stopped kicking the dead balls after a nasty leg break a few years back.

Whatever practice he has got, his technique is incredible, with a short walk up to address the ball.

He explains: "I was taught that power isn't everything. It's the technique and you have to work at it. If you run up to a ball and if you are running at full speed there is a very good chance you are going to scuff it.

"I worked on it last year by taking frees before and after training. I developed a set routine and it has worked for me."

It certainly has. In Dublin training, goalkeeping trailblazer Stephen Cluxton has used a heavier version of the standard O'Neill's ball in order to gain distance with his strikes.

Beggan is not quite as fussy, preferring instead to use an old ball, with the belief that if he can strike an old, scuffed ball, then the new ones in Championship football should sail through the posts.

And while the likes of Niall Morgan prefer a pre-determined routine and go through a mental process, again Beggan seems more natural.

"I just look at the ball," he says. "I don't look at anyone else. I might throw the grass up to see which way the wind is blowing. I don't listen to the crowd. I don't listen to anyone shouting at me. I just set it down and kick it.

"There were a few times last year when I was getting the distance but I wasn't getting the accuracy. I focus now on accuracy."

Looking ahead to the replay, he can see more of the same harum-scarum-type activity.

"Armagh just upped their game for the last 10 minutes. Maybe they had targeted those last 10 minutes. They were very hard to stop.

"Next week is going to be an even bigger battle and we are going to have to up our performance again.

"Armagh will bring the same game and will probably be even better the next day. We are just going to have to counteract that."

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