So copious were the plusses from Monaghan’s winning visit to Kerry on Sunday that an upside to Conor McManus’s limited impact might be overlooked.
The talisman registered two important late points but he was well shackled for the first hour by Kerry’s Shane Enright. Which presented the platform for Currin’s Jack McCarron to reintroduce himself as a scoring foil for the Farney men. And a welcome one at that.
The son of 1985 All-Star Ray, McCarrron has had a nightmare run of back luck and operations (when he was six, he broke his femur training with the club’s Under 10s), from shoulder surgery in 2012, to a cruciate operation two years ago, and hamstring issues last season. Throw in an ankle procedure late in 2016, and O’Rourke’s delight at his performance in Killarney is understandable.
“It’s something we are trying to improve all the time,” accepted Monaghan boss Malachy O’Rourke. “It has been levelled against us we are relying too much on Conor and I suppose the limelight does fall on him. (So) I’m delighted for Jack who has struggled with injuries. The last couple of years he’s worked really hard on his own and we got him back in on Sunday and he showed his quality with the goal.
“It’s just trying to take some of the emphasis off Conor. If teams feel ‘well if we take care of him they are not going to scores from elsewhere’ so it means defences have to think about other players as well it makes things easier for everyone.”
Watching from the dugout, the injured Dessie Mone was equally pleased with the load-sharing up front. “It was great to see Jack McCarron back because we have been probably missing another forward like him. It was great to see him getting scores, and getting that bit of confidence back.”
Confidence is an asset O’Rourke’s men should bring to Omagh next Saturday night for their third tough away trip out of four League games.
“We knew when we looked at the schedule we hard three really difficult away games out of the first four,” the manager explained.
“And you know if you don’t get a good performance, if you’re not at the pitch of your game for trips to Mayo, Kerry and Tyrone, then you’re not going to win.
“In Killarney our defence was again operating well but we are wise to the fact a Kerry forward line in the summer time is very different to their attack in wintery conditions like Sunday. The conditions suited defenders, with balls slipping, but it does give you confidence.” There’s that word again.
“There are a few young lads coming through which is great to see with the success of the U21s in Ulster,” Dessie Mone added. “There is also a lot of hard work being done with the development squads, from U14s up to minor but it is a learning curve for them, like James Mealiff, who got a start in Killarney. It was great for him to play against a top class team like Kerry, it’s a great learning experience.”
Mone is still out with a broken wrist and expects to be back in business in six to eight weeks.
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