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Retirement not an option for Dick Clerkin

By Declan Bogue

He may have only been on the field for 20 minutes on Sunday, but Dick Clerkin's contribution to Monaghan's 0-16 to 0-15 win over neighbours Cavan was ample enough to force Kevin McStay to include him on the shortlist for The Sunday Game's man of the match.

When he replaced Paul Finlay, Monaghan were three points down, but five minutes later he popped over a point with his left foot to narrow the gap to one, while later he delayed a pass to set up Colin Walshe to lance over the insurance point in injury time.

Clerkin, the longest-serving inter-county player in Ireland, believes such victories all come down to composure and experience and while Cavan have promise, Monaghan have more big days to draw upon.

"Every big team has big players, they have men who can come in and do what is required," the 34-year-old chemical engineer explains.

"There is no use in kicking points in the first few minutes, kicking points in league football, you have to be able to do it in the heat of the Championship when the game is in the melting pot. We have proved we can do that."

Monaghan were coming in with huge expectation to beat Cavan, who floundered in Division Three over the winter and spring, while Farney went on to deliver a credible National League semi-final performance in losing to Dublin by a point.

The Currin clubman again can draw on past experiences to guard against complacency.

"It is dangerous territory to be in. I remember back to 2008 when we were in a similar position, coming off a very successful 2007 season, and we were odds-on favourites playing Fermanagh. Everyone was talking about an Ulster title and we just did not perform on the day," recalled Clerkin.

"It was like that in the first half this time, we were not at the intensity that we needed to be. There were a lot of turnovers and thankfully as it went on we started to make the right decisions."

It is interesting to note that the Fermanagh manager that day was present Monaghan supremo, Malachy O'Rourke. And they may be facing the Ernemen in an Ulster semi-final if they overcome Antrim this Sunday.

The details on Clerkin's birth certificate has not curtailed his county involvement, and despite having two children, he avoids any final season talk.

"I really enjoy playing football for Monaghan. I have always said that the day when I don't enjoy it is the day I finish. I still feel I have something to offer. I still enjoy it," he enthused.

"We had a lot of lean years at the start, so we are just making up for lost time. It is a great opportunity and I really enjoy it."

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