Nothing became Malachy O’Rourke so much as the manner in which he walked away.
There were no dramatics on the part of the Fermanagh man when he announced his decision to cut ties with Monaghan after seven memorable years on the back of Saturday’s All-Ireland qualifier loss at home to Armagh. That wouldn’t be his style.
A personable and polite character, there was a something sweet about the scene as he stood at the back of the main stand in Clones explaining his thought-process as supporters strained a respectful ear and kids swung out of the adjacent railings all but oblivious to the momentous act unfolding in such a serene manner.
“We have had some unbelievable days together and a few disappointments along the way too. Look, whatever is the best thing for the players... I just think, at this stage, that a fresh voice and impetus coming in will be the best things to rejuvenate it.”
O’Rourke took over a team that was deemed to be over-the-hill, a bunch that had come close to doing great things but always fell short. He delivered two Ulster titles, lost another final and made late summer trips to Croke Park an expectation.
That he leaves with regrets tells you just how hard Monaghan punched under him. Yes, there could have been an All-Ireland final appearance last year and, yes, there were other defeats in Clones and in Croke Park that were difficult to stomach but O’Rourke helped sate a ravenous appetite all the same.
Following up that run to last year’s All-Ireland semi-final was always going to be difficult and he wasn’t helped by the losses of stalwarts such as Colin Walshe and Darren Hughes while other vets had slipped down the pecking order.
We just couldn’t get that spark we were looking for. We just didn’t look to have the same freshness that we had.
“I suppose, at this stage, that’s why I am saying it is time for a fresh voice. It is important for the players that they are rejuvenated. They are still a young team; they are still in the first division. There is lots to look forward too and I’ll pass the baton on to somebody else.”