By Francis Mooney
Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke praised his players’ composure and workrate after the Ulster champions downed Armagh at the second attempt.
The Farney men set up a repeat of last year’s provincial decider against Donegal with a five points replay win at Clones.
Skipper Conor McManus was back to his best, hitting 1-7 to lead his side to within seventy minutes of back-to-back titles.
But the Farney men had to recover from an early Aaron Findon goal before stamping their authority on the contest.
“The goal rocked us back but that can happen and the boys just kept their composure. We played a lot better than we did the last day but all it does is give us ticket into the final,” said O’Rourke.
“The fellas got a fair bit of criticism after last week but we had confidence in them. The defence has been the bedrock of the team this last couple of years and we weren't going to shuffle boys about. We just felt they didn't have their best day last week but we had every confidence in them going out today and to a fair degree they shut the Armagh forwards out.
“In championship football you can't expect to be on top all the time. But we upped our work-rate, our intensity today. We got a lot more men around the man with the ball so it was great, it was a much better performance.”
O’Rourke is aware that Donegal have had ample opportunity to watch them in action and assess their strengths and weaknesses ahead of the Ulster final later this month.
“Donegal have got two chances to watch us now and they have a lot of hurt from last year so it will be a completely different game, but at least we're there.
“We felt that last week we didn't work as hard as we'd like. We knew we'd have to up it today, it's something we have prided ourselves on and we felt it slackened a bit last week. Now we have to refocus completely and put in a big performance in the final as well.
“One thing we do pride ourselves on is the workrate of the boys and I suppose we let is slacken last week. It was great to get it back today and as I say, it gets us into a final.”
Armagh face a trip to Omagh to face Tyrone in next weekend’s Qualifier tie, and it looks as if silence will continue to emanate from the Orchard camp ahead of that big Ulster derby.
They have been boycotting the media in protest at the coverage of the pre-match brawl which marred their first round clash with Cavan at the Athletic Grounds.
When approached for a comment on today’s replay defeat, Armagh manager Paul Grimley replied: “I have nothing to say.”