Ryan Porter helps Monaghan strengthen their hand
A Tyrone man could play an important part in helping Monaghan into the All-Ireland quarter-finals when they meet Kildare in a Round 4B qualifier tie at Croke Park tomorrow.
Ryan Porter is the highly-rated strength and conditioning coach who has brought a fresh level of power and intensity to Monaghan's play – attributes that will be required against an experienced Kildare outfit.
Porter's input into Monaghan's progress to date has been significant, but his team's physical prowess and stamina will be very much put to the test on this occasion.
Kildare may have diced with danger in their most recent qualifier against Clare which they won by a single point (0-13 to 0-12), but in an earlier game against Down they showed their mettle by powering through the last quarter to win by a 10-point margin after the sides had been deadlocked on two occasions in the second-half.
"We know what to expect from Kildare. They're a strong-running side who work very hard both on and off the ball and thankfully Ryan has our team in good shape for this challenge," said Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke.
"When you go to play in Croke Park you need to be at peak fitness."
Monaghan's dogged spirit and physicality were in evidence in their Ulster final defeat to Donegal, but without piercing the vice-like defence often enough to make any real impact on the scoreboard.
Now they will face a Kildare side for whom seasoned campaigners Peirce O'Neill, Henry McGrillan, Mick Foley, Emmet Bolton and Alan Smith are in fine form.
Kildare manager Jason Ryan inherited a team that had learned their craft under the tutelage of Kieran McGeeney, who is now No. 2 to Paul Grimley in Armagh.
No one is more aware of the intensity and physical power that McGeeney can instil in a side than Ryan Porter and that's why Monaghan will be in peak condition for a game that is seen as a defining test for them in the wake of their Ulster final setback.
And O'Rourke is keeping his fingers crossed that his team will get the rub of the green which he feels deserted them in the provincial decider.
O'Rourke said: "To be honest, I felt that Donegal got the kind of frees in that game which we did not get."