Conor McManus: Rory Beggan has learned from Stephen Cluxton

Conor McManus has insisted that fellow All-Star Rory Beggan didn’t need to apologise for going for glory during their narrow All-Ireland semi-final defeat.

Conor McManus:  Rory Beggan has learned from Stephen Cluxton

By Paul Keane

Conor McManus has insisted that fellow All-Star Rory Beggan didn’t need to apologise for going for glory during their narrow All-Ireland semi-final defeat.

The Monaghan duo, along with wing-back Karl O’Connell, will pick up their All-Stars this evening after a breakthrough season with the Farney.

But goalkeeper Beggan admitted last week that his season ended on a low when his attempted equaliser against Tyrone dropped short and was cleared.

The 26-year-old said he had a ‘rush of blood’ and ‘immediately regretted’ trying to kick the leveller from long range after dashing up-field.

He also admitted that he apologised to teammates afterwards though McManus insisted there was no need to do so.

“There was no apology necessary,” said McManus, now a three-time All-Star. “If we were all to take that approach we’d be apologising after every day we went out. Rory doesn’t owe us anything. His performances spoke for themselves all year. What he has brought to the team this past six or seven years has been immense.

“There was definitely no need to be doing that. We all kick wides or make mistakes in games. And look, if he’d floated that ball over the bar he would have been the toast of Monaghan. It was just one of those things, I wouldn’t have been expecting any sort of apology at all.”

Beggan beat Dublin veteran Stephen Cluxton and Laois’ Graham Brody to the goalkeeper All-Star award.

He shot 18 points in the Championship from placed balls and performed a sweeper ‘keeper role that gave Monaghan a vital extra edge.

McManus agreed that Beggan is now up there among the top stoppers.

“It’s not even up for discussion, it’s a given,” said McManus. “I think everyone knows that. His performances throughout the summer were top-drawer. It’s not even up for debate.”

Cluxton can feel hard done by that just two of his five All-Stars have come this decade, a period in which Dublin have claimed six All-Irelands.

But pundit Pat Spillane has already claimed that Beggan is a better ‘keeper than Cluxton and others may agree.

“Cluxton has been the benchmark and Rory would have said that himself over the years,” said McManus. “Rory has probably learned from him and taken the role and made it his own by really working hard on his game. Is one better than the other? I wouldn’t like to go out without Rory Beggan in our team, that’s all I’ll say.”

Monaghan will look to their three All-Stars to power them to the summit of Ulster in 2019 after last winning the provincial title in 2015.

They’ve been drawn to play Cavan in the quarter-finals and will be favourites to progress. “They’re always tight games with Cavan,” noted McManus. “Over the last three championship games, if you add up the winning margin, it’s only five points overall, very tight, so you can expect more of the same.”

It still looks a kind draw, generally, for Monaghan with Donegal and Tyrone both on the opposite side — opening up a path to the Ulster final.

“I don’t think you can say that at this stage— we’ve lost the last three semi-finals in Ulster,” said McManus. “We genuinely can’t be looking at any side of the draw and saying it’s the easy side. That narrative has been spun about since the draw but we’ve heard it before, we were told we were going to be in an Ulster final this year and the previous year and it didn’t happen either time.”

Monaghan’s three All-Stars, the most they’ve ever got in a season, reflected a breakthrough year.

But McManus showed what high standards they have now when he described it as disappointing not to win the All-Ireland.

“Ten years ago we’d never have said that, that wasn’t the level we were at at that stage,” he said.

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