Kieran Donnelly: Rory Beggan focused despite missing US trip

Such has been Rory Beggan’s total focus on Sunday’s Ulster club final, his club manager wasn’t even aware he was missing the All-Stars trip to Philadelphia this weekend.

Kieran Donnelly: Rory Beggan focused despite missing US trip

Such has been Rory Beggan’s total focus on Sunday’s Ulster club final, his club manager wasn’t even aware he was missing the All-Stars trip to Philadelphia this weekend.

The Scotstown goalkeeper earned a first All-Star in 2018, pipping Dublin’s All-Ireland-winning captain Stephen Cluxton to the award, after leading Monaghan to a first All-Ireland semi-final appearance in 30 years.

Club commitments meant he wasn’t on board the plane to Philadelphia yesterday for the six-day All-Stars football tour, and will instead be in Omagh on Sunday trying to steer Scotstown to a first Ulster club title since 1989.

“You know something, he hasn’t even mentioned it,” said Scotstown manager Kieran Donnelly.

“It came up in conversation three or four weeks ago but that’s the last I heard about it. I wasn’t sure when it was happening.

“He’s having an incredible year and deserves all the plaudits he’s got and thoroughly deserved the All-Star, and I suppose the fact it hasn’t even been talked about is a reflection of how committed he is, how focused he is.

“Being the club man that he is, I know there is nowhere Rory would rather be on Sunday than playing in an Ulster club final.”

However, Donnelly, the former Fermanagh half-forward, wonders whether the unfortunate clash could have been avoided.

There are two senior club games left in 2018, Sunday’s Ulster decider between Scotstown and Donegal champions Gweedore, and the Leinster club SFC final between Dublin kingpins Kilmacud Crokes and Mullinalaghta (Longford).

Kilmacud’s Paul Mannion is in the same boat at Beggan having won an All-Star this year.

“It’s slightly unfair, the timing of it,” said Donnelly.

“Mid-December looks like a more natural break when the club finals are over.

It’s disappointing given the season he’s had that Rory is missing out on an experience like that — hopefully the GAA will reimburse him in some way.

Four-time Ulster winners Scotstown, who last reached the provincial final in 2015, are taking on a Gweedore side playing in a first ever final.

They are enjoying the journey with no pressure on their shoulders, which makes them dangerous opponents in Healy Park for the more experienced four-in-a-row Monaghan champions.

Of some concern for Donnelly must be that against both Burren and Coleraine, Scotstown have not converted their superiority onto the scoreboard. They’ve been wasteful, but there’s no sense of concern.

“I do feel we’ve been playing a lot of good football and not been finishing but we do have a lot of forwards that I have a lot of faith in,” added Donnelly, who was assistant manager when Peter Canavan was in charge of Fermanagh in 2012 and 2013.

Skipper Darren Hughes was critical of his own display against Coleraine and said the county men will need to do more in the final but Donnelly insisted: “Their work-rate never diminishes and their attitude is top-class.

“Our five county men are team players and they have stepped up in big games in the past, against Ballybay in the county final in particular.

“We got to see all of Gweedore’s semi-final against Crossmaglen and it was a massive performance from them.

“They’ve had success at underage level, they play with pace at the transition phase and they are a potent force, so we’re well aware of their threats.”

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