There are signs of a serious maturity in the panel, even to the point where O’Rourke can plan for victory over a strong Tyrone team and not require the services of Conor McManus until the 48th minute.
Even at that, the game carried the subtext that they will see each other in May for the Ulster Championship, fully locked and loaded.
For his part, O’Rourke played this win in the Castleblayney bearpit down.
“We have seen this before, we have had good performances in the league and then in the Championship, it is a very different ball game.
“I have no doubt when we play Tyrone in May they will be a completely different team so we will look at it sensibly.
“Any time you beat Tyrone in a game it is a good night.
“We will take it, move on and not get too carried away.”
His side raced 0-4 to 0-0 in front in the first eight minutes, the first three points coming from Fintan Kelly, the converted corner-back operating much higher up the field.
With Monaghan playing a solid wall of defenders on their 45m line, Tyrone’s cautiousness cost them until they began running and drawing frees that Lee Brennan converted — eight in total — and made it to half-time with an unlikely one-point lead.
However, the depth of Monaghan’s panel was to drive them home with McManus coming off the bench to land three crucial points while they wrestled back the lead and held off the late Tyrone charge, ending in a Peter Harte effort dropping short in the final play of the game.
For Mickey Harte, it now reads four losses out of Tyrone’s last five games, but he says his players are not suffering from a lack of confidence.
“I don’t think it is an issue,” he said. “I think it’s just one of these phases that teams go through and maybe we have gone through it for too long, of creating lots of chances and just not finishing the chances. It is something we need to think about and see if we can create something that is going to bring us to a better place.”
Their last three games are Donegal at home, a trip to Mayo and Kerry at home. Their league season now becomes a Great Escape effort.
“Every game is important as there is a target of a certain number of points that every team need, and they would suggest you need at least six, to be safe. We are four off that at the minute, it’s not a good place we are in at the minute, but it is still in our own hands.”
As for Monaghan, O’Rourke insists they are process-orientated. “I said that right from the start, it’s not a case of looking for any single figure of points or anything else. We are just targeting every single game and seeing if we can improve our performances. We have done that, we feel our performances have been fairly consistent, even the Mayo game as well, even though we didn’t win anything. And we feel we have improved on each day on different aspects, that’s what we are committed to do.”
F Kelly (0-3), C McManus (0-3, 2f), R Beggan (0-3f), J McCarron (0-2f), C Walshe, O Duffy, S Carey (1f), D Ward (0-1 each)
L Brennan (0-8f), M McKernan, C Cavanagh, M Donnelly, N Sludden, P Harte, R Donnelly (0-1 each)
R Beggan; C Walshe, C Boyle, R Wylie; D Mone, D Wylie, V Corey; D Hughes, N Kearns; S Carey, F Kelly, D Ward; J McCarron, T Kerr, C McCarthy.
K O’Connell for Walshe (44), K Duffy for Walshe (47), C McManus for Kerr (48), O Duffy for Carey (54) K Hughes for McCarron (67), D Malone for McCarthy (70)
N Morgan; M McKernan, R McNamee, C McCarron; C Meyler, P Hampsey, K McGeary; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; C McCann, N Sludden, P Harte; L Brennan, R Donnelly, C McAliskey.
HP McGeary, for McCarron (23), M Bradley, for McAliskey (47), D Mulgrew for McCann (56), D McCurry for Mulgrew (BC - 60), P McNulty for R Donnelly (70).
Conor Lane (Cork).