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Mournemen's stirring 2012 revival remains a sore point

By Declan Bogue

Rory Beggan leant back against the tiled dressing room of the Athletic Grounds. It was some introduction to senior football. Monaghan had been 0-11 to 0-2 up at half-time against Down. But a stirring second-half revival took the Mournemen through and into the Ulster final in 2012 at the Oriel County's expense.

"I remember the dressing room, it was very silent," recalled the goalkeeper, who hit three points from the dead ball in their quarter-final win over Cavan a fortnight ago.

Five years on, the sides meet at the same stage once again with the added context that Monaghan inflicted the heaviest Championship defeat Down have ever known (19 points) in last year's quarter-final.

"We used a little bit of that as motivation for last year's game against Down as well, that we didn't want that happening again," said Beggan.

"We know that Down are a great football team, a great footballing county and they can punish you on their day. They are a great running team and it will be another game like this. I am just hoping we can put in another full 70-plus minutes performance that we can be happy with."

Beggan was at the centre of all the action in Breffni Park last day out. His three pointed frees, along with a Ryan Connolly shot that rattled his post in the final play of the game, were the defining factors.

His ability to convert long-range frees and '45s' takes a lot of practice, the Scotstown man insists.

"I haven't been hitting them well this last couple of years but I've been out practising before and after training just hoping to pick up. Conor and Jack would be the free-takers as well, and if it's in their range they'll take it, but if they want me up I'll come up and hopefully put them over the bar," he said.

"I know we had Donegal here last year and I remember leaving and going to the training ground, wondering to myself, 'Is there another way I can do this?'

"It does affect your confidence a lot going in, but you just have to forget about the game, get to the training ground and score more than you miss.

"It's just about getting the consistency when you go onto the field.

"You can hit them all you want in training, but when you are in front of a big crowd like that you have to be making them."

His secret to successfully slotting over pressure kicks is to eradicate the stress by making the process as simple as possible.

He explained: "If you think too long about the free, a lot of different things can go through your head, so I just waste no time, go out and take it."

Cool as you like.

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