McEnaney tightlipped on keeper decision

MONAGHAN manager Seamus McEnaney has refused to retrace the trail of events which ended with his full-back lining out in goal for yesterday’s Ulster SFC quarter-final against Armagh.

There was less than half an hour to throw-in when word first began to spread that all was not well in the Monaghan camp and that a bizarre situation had emerged with regard to who would start between the posts.

Regular stopper, Shane Duffy, had been hampered by a quad injury all week and the Magheraclone keeper was finally ruled out at tea-time on Saturday evening, which is when the story really got interesting.

Rather than promote his back-up, Sean Gorman, to the number one jersey, McEnaney decided to go with full-back Darren Hughes who had played in the position during his time with the county minors.

Hughes was informed of the choice that night, as were John Paul Mone and Eoin Lennon whose roles yesterday were altered as a result of the switch.

Apparently, Gorman received no such call.

It was reported that the Ballybay keeper refused to travel to Belfast when informed of the news at the team’s gathering in Monaghan yesterday morning but McEnaney pleaded the fifth when asked for definitive details.

“It was the most difficult decision I ever had to make in my life,” said ‘Banty’. “Not about Darren Hughes, but about our sub goalkeeper Sean Gorman.

“That’s life but, unfortunately, these are things you have to do.”

It was a bizarre situation and there were suggestions later that Gorman’s clubmate Paul Finlay had considered making himself unavailable for the game in protest at the decision.

Finlay rejected that line of inquiry when it was put to him after a game in which he contributed seven points but he did admit to being taken aback by the manner in which Gorman was overlooked.

“I have to make a special word for my club mate there today,” said the centre-forward. “It was a really tough decision for the management and nobody likes to make those decisions. I was absolutely gutted for Sean. It took me a good hour to get over what happened and I really feel for him and I hope Sean can come back from this and maybe be back training with us on Tuesday night.

“We got it right here today and, no matter what our personal differences are, we have to look at what is right for the team. That was an experience that we don’t want to happen again but, listen, we move on.”

Yesterday’s performance was by far and away the most complete in the Ulster Championship this summer and, with Cavan or Fermanagh facing them next, Monaghan will be expected to make the final at the very least.

“Monaghan are an experienced, hardened team,” said Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke. “They have very good players and we knew that. I wasn’t trying to fool anybody when I said that they probably had as good forwards as any team. I see no reason why Monaghan should not go on and win the Ulster title. I expect that is what they will do.”

As for Armagh? Well, defeat would have been hard enough in itself but the manner and margin of this reversal leaves O’Rourke behind the black ball in his first season at the helm. Redemption will have to come in the qualifiers.

“Whether you get beaten by one point or beaten by 12 it is very disappointing. We are probably not a team known for conceding big scores like we did today. We are bitterly disappointed and we will go away and see why we did that and hopefully we will not repeat it.”

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