Next year’s Super 8 series will make it even more difficult for the likes of Monaghan to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals, according to manager Malachy O’Rourke.
The Fermanagh native, who wouldn’t confirm if he would be in charge of Monaghan next season, believes the round-robin groups replacing the All-Ireland quarter-finals make the last-four prospects of counties with small populations further remote.
“If I’m speaking honestly, I think it will,” he said. “I just think if you’re playing, especially for the smaller counties with less resources, if we play a really tough game one week and we have to go out again the following week, you’re probably going to have fellas carrying injuries, you might have suspensions and things like that there. Whereas the stronger counties don’t rely on a few individuals as much. They have stronger panels.”
O’Rourke has just completed his fifth season in charge of Monaghan and has another two years to run in his current agreement, which was formalised last September. But he wouldn’t be drawn on his future. “It’s not the time to reflect on things like that. It’s whatever is best for the players, it’s whatever is best for the county board. Obviously, I have to look at things myself. it’s not the best time to be asked the question. It’s just so disappointing.”
Similarly, Jim Gavin wasn’t too forthcoming on the prospects of Diarmuid Connolly coming into the frame for the All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone considering his 12-week suspension elapses prior to the game. “We’ll just have to see”, was his response when questioned on the matter. Cormac Costello, he added, should also be available having returned to full training.
Gavin claims he hasn’t looked at Tyrone since February but appreciates on the basis of their recent meetings it is shaping up to be a tight affair. “It’s going to be a close game. My recollection of the game in February was that they were very fit for February. I thought they were covering the ground and looked very impressive. We just hung in there, showed great resilience to eek something out of that particular game. “But over the last number of seasons Dublin-Tyrone games have been nip and tuck and I don’t expect anything different in three weeks’ time.”
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