Three-time All-Star Conor McManus has insisted that Monaghan won’t “disappear into the sunset” as some expect following the end of the Malachy O’Rourke era.
The 31-year-old attacker has promised to return in 2020, regardless of who replaces O’Rourke, and reckons there won’t be a big turnover in personnel.
McManus acknowledged a general perception that Monaghan are an ageing team with high mileage but said the reality is quite different.
And he noted that being written off after a surprise Championship defeat is nothing new to the group, pointing out that many believed their shock 2016 qualifier defeat to Longford was the end of an era.
“And the same thing would have been said after 2010, when we didn’t make the breakthrough back then so throughout your Monaghan career you have always heard this said that, ‘They’re going to go away now, slide off and disappear into the sunset’,” said McManus.
“It has never been like that so I don’t see why we should subscribe to that ourselves now.
“I don’t see it as the end. Even if you did, you would probably never come out and say it but I honestly don’t. We’re not going to be losing a huge number of players, we have a decent mix of youth and our older lads, myself, Drew Wylie and Darren Hughes are over 30 but after that it’s a good mix and I’d be hopeful that we can get a good pre-season under our belts and try to hit the ground running again but we’ll be as competitive as we ever were.”
McManus said that Vincent Corey and Dessie Mone are the only two players that may seriously consider hanging up their boots.
“If they decide to step away, nobody will judge them for that,” he said. “Vinny will be 37 next year, Dessie will be 36, so they’re probably the only two. Other than that you’re down to my own age group, I’m 31 and there’s a couple of boys that are maybe 32, so that’s where you’re at with it. I don’t expect to see too many going, to be perfectly honest with you.”
McManus, who top scored for Monaghan in last year’s one-point All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tyrone, believes the Red Hands remain the greatest threat to Dublin’s current five-in-a-row bid.
Dublin play Tyrone this Sunday in a repeat of the 2018 final, in Omagh, though both sides have already qualified for the semi-finals.
“Probably this weekend isn’t the time to beat Dublin,” he said.
“If Dublin were to lose a game, if they are to lose their unbeaten record, this is the weekend for them to do it.
“Nobody’s going to read a whole pile into it, so this is the weekend for them to lose, if that’s what they’re thinking.
“From a Tyrone point of view, or for anyone else playing Dublin, the time to beat them is in an All-Ireland semi-final or final. I think Tyrone, potentially, have what’s needed to beat them.”
- Conor McManus was speaking at the launch of the new dual-player feature of AIB’s online video game, The Toughest Journey. Previously restricted to playing as a single user, ‘Battle Mode’ will allow game players to go head-to-head in real time.