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Ulster Championship Final: Monaghan boss Banty keen to serve up an upset

Seamus McEnaney is much more than a county football manager.

He’s also a highly successful businessman whose family own the popular Fiddlers bar and restaurant in Carrickmacross as well as the Westerna hotel in Monaghan town, managed by his brother Frank, a more than useful midfielder for the county in his time.

It’s a busy life for the man known affectionatley as Banty and most Saturday nights he wouldn’t be getting to bed until the wee small hours.

But you won’t hear him complain.

For him it’s become a way of life combining that with his many hours in the role of county manager. But he’s happiest and most at ease when the conversation inevitably turns to fooball and then he’s up and running.

“I can recall the 1988 Ulster final against Tyrone like it was yesterday. I can still see Nudie Hughes picking up a ball that ’keeper Aidan Skelton had dropped on the edge of the small square and sticking it in the net.”

Twenty two years on and McEnaney can relish the prospect of crossing swords with old adversaries Tyrone.

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But there are still raw and painful memories of losing the 2007 provincial decider to Tyrone.

“My abiding memory from that day was that we were in a very bad position after 15 minutes and you cannot afford that against a side of Tyrone’s quality,” he said.

“But I believe we now have seven or eight forwards all capable of playing in different positions and who can take scores and that has to be a big plus.”

Explaining Paul Grimley’s arrival into the Monaghan management set up, McEnaney said: “I felt that at the end of last year we needed to freshen things up.

“I wanted Paul Grimley one of the best coaches in the country and I set out to get him.

“I was only staying on as manager providing I could bring him into our set up.

“But this is not about me, it’s all about Monaghan and Monaghan eing as successful as they possibly can be.

“This team has come a long way and it’s continually progressing but we needed a new freshensss and a new direction.

“I would think nothing of bringing Pope Benedict in if I thought he would bring success.”

Banty agrees that one of his greatest strength is his ability to delegate.

And he makes the point that there is so much more to management than simply picking a team and making changes

“Anything I’ve done since becoming manager was done with a view to improving the side and I feel we’ve achieved that,” he added.

“We now effectively have 20/21 players in contention for 15 places.

“We take as much as we can out of the players who have progressed nicely each year, but we still haven’t achieved what we would like.

“I still have total belief in this squad and there’s great respect between me and the players. But the reality is that we’re playing a Tyrone team with 18 of their 2008 All Ireland winning side fit and ready to play.

“It’s a huge task but one we’re looking forward to.

“We have total respect for what Tyrone have achieved. They are the best team to have left Ulster in the last 40 years, but we’ve a group of players relishing the challenge and we certainly don’t fear them.”

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