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Seamus McEnaney heaps praise on stars young and old after Monaghan secure McKenna Cup semi-final berth

Gaelic Games


Seamus McEnaney. Credit: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Seamus McEnaney. Credit: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Kieran Donnelly. Credit: Donnie Phair

Kieran Donnelly. Credit: Donnie Phair


Seamus McEnaney. Credit: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

It was a brisk weekend for Monaghan and a tidy bit of business.

Manager Seamus McEnaney has talked recently of where he felt they fell down in that knife-edge Ulster final against Tyrone. He has diagnosed the difference as lying in the depth of the respective benches.

So to give a number of debuts all over the pitch on Friday night in Owenbeg as they drew with Derry, before overwhelming a threadbare Fermanagh side here, all but putting themselves into the semi-finals, he has to be happy.

“All told over the weekend, a draw, a win, it looks like we will get another game out of the McKenna Cup. We value the McKenna Cup seriously for our younger players,” said the Corduff man.

“We are trying to put a bit of depth in our panel for the summer and to be fair to some of our younger lads they did well.

“I have to compliment our senior players too. They set serious standards in training, off the pitch, on the pitch, everywhere we go and the young players have to row in, or else they won’t be there.”

Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly felt they should have been closer at the end. Perhaps there was a sense of Monaghan easing off and losing their shape in the multitude of changes, but a couple of what should have been routine frees were passed up in the last 10 minutes that might have set up something of a finish.

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“I suppose at times we missed a couple of easy chances. We didn’t get to grips with our own kickouts at the start of the second half and they don’t miss. That often is the gap that we have to close,” he said.

“A lot of the young players that were stepping on for the first time today and making their debut I would have to be exceptionally happy with, so I will take those positives.”

One of the debutants was young James Ferguson.

Educated in Portora Royal School, it is more famous for past pupils, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett. And now, the Old Boys network have their very first inter-county footballer. Funny thing is he only took up the sport after lockdown eased and has just completed his second season with Enniskillen Gaels.

“James has come from a Rugby background all his life. He is an exceptionally good fella and really keen to stake himself in Gaelic football,” said Donnelly.

“We see him apply himself really well and he is physically tough as you would expect coming from that background as well, but I thought he was excellent in periods there today.

“I am delighted for him because he was nervous going into that today and this environment.”

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