Seeing as he has to mark Conor McManus in training, Ryan Wylie has no problem in likening his teammate to Monaghan’s version of Lionel Messi.
Clontibret man McManus is expected to slowly work himself into the league as he has done the last few seasons, which means he might not feature in Sunday week’s Division 1 opener against Dublin in St Tiernach’s Park. “He likes to mind himself,” Wylie laughed.
Monaghan will do their best to cope though Wylie argues McManus would be the lead scorer in any county side.
“Mansey is unbelievable, some of his point-taking and some of the scores he is gathering up is unbelievable. We might as well use him. Everyone is saying ‘he’s carrying the team’ or whatever, but I’d say if any other county had him in their forwards he’d be still racking up the same and still saying the same.
“Barcelona have Messi and all these sort of players, that’s just the way — teams are always going to have star forwards. Not even in training, in club matches you think you have him bottled up and next thing he just swings it over. You just have to say ‘here, good score’ and go again. You nearly just have to try get the ball out in front of him, that’s probably the easiest way to mark him.
“I think last year especially the whole team was nearly chipping in, Conor McCarthy had a very good season, scored a good few scores. I suppose it’s a team effort now, everybody try to chip in and try get us over the line.”
Wylie’s point is backed up by last year’s Championship statistic that of Monaghan’s 8-150 total the back-line contributed 4-47 (McManus produced 2-47, McCarthy 1-13).
The load is being shared more than seasons previous.
“If you feel you’re going to benefit the attack by going forward, and that you can get a score, then go on ahead. I suppose that’s maybe the way the game has gone. If you look at other teams, they maybe have similar stats as well. The game now is like that, up and down and backs are probably getting more scores. Unfortunately, I didn’t add much to that 4-47.”
Ballybay man Wylie did more than most in keeping the numbers down at the other end, conceding just one point from play in all his match-ups last summer. “To be honest, I didn’t really notice. As a defender you just go out to try keep your man scoreless, he goes out to try score, it’s as simple as that. If he gets a couple of scores then obviously he has done a better job than me.
“That’s what you want to be proud of, it’s like a goalkeeper wants to keep clean sheets, as a defender you want to keep your man scoreless. It’s just part of the game. I didn’t really read much into it, I didn’t know about it until it came out.”