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Second success all the sweeter for O'Rourke

We've done it: Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke celebrates after the final whistle
We've done it: Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke celebrates after the final whistle
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

They say you win a breakthrough title for the people who follow and support you, and the second triumph is always for yourself.

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke more or less confirmed that after the remarkable 0-11 to 0-10 victory over Donegal, beginning his summing up by referring the 2013 win.

"Two years ago, we came here and the boys put in a great display. At the time we felt that the players didn't get the credit for it... that it was more to do with Donegal being tired and having injuries," he said.

"We came back last year and tried to do it and in fairness, Donegal were the better team on the day and fully deserved it. We just wanted to come here and show that we are a good team and that we could win another Ulster final. Donegal are a great team and they pushed us to the limit. I'm just delighted to come through it."

For any manager, beating both Jim McGuinness and Rory Gallagher takes some doing, and Fermanagh native O'Rourke revealed some of his gameplan afterwards when he said: "The one thing about Donegal is that they try to pull you out of position and exploit the spaces left behind.

"They started well but after that, we got to grips with it and didn't give them much room to play in. There was always going to be plenty of turnovers so whichever team used the ball best would be in the ascendency - I suppose we did for a while and Donegal did as well, there was nothing in the game.

"We were just delighted to win the game. I've said it before, Donegal were in their fifth final in a row, going for their fourth title, they have been in two of the last three All-Ireland deciders. They are a top-class team. We knew that we would have to put in a really great performance. You will hear more from Donegal, we are just delighted to win."

And O'Rourke graciously accepted that it was slipping away from his side in the last few minutes. He said: "I still thought our shape was good, but we gave away a few frees which I wasn't happy about - they were coming back at us. But I felt that unless we did something stupid, if we kept our shape and composure at the back, we would be there or thereabouts."

When you have Conor McManus on your team, you only have to tap into his will to win.

"Sometimes people forget that there is a tremendous determination and tremendous will in him," said O'Rourke.

"He was being marked very tightly - but he wasn't prepared to give in and not prepared to stand about and take it and he got going and scored three from play. That's the mark of the man, he came through strongly."

As the Monaghan bus set off, they put up a pre-made sign proclaiming them as 'Ulster Champions 2015' in the front window. Everything about the second triumph is that little bit better, admitted O'Rourke.

"It is sweeter," he said. "The first time around, it was nearly a shock to a lot of people. We felt we could win it, but there was amazing exhilaration and celebration, this is more about fulfilment.

"It was just proving to ourselves and to everyone that we could come back and beat a quality team like Donegal. I'm delighted to be able to prove that."

Belfast Telegraph


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