By Niall McCoy
FORMER Monaghan player and coach Owen Lennon has said that the county should be dreaming big and trying to follow the example set by neighbours Tyrone.
Lennon, who was part of Malachy O’Rourke’s backroom team previously and was involved with the county u-20s this season, looked at how close the Ulster final was he believes that the Oriel county squad has the ability to match the Red Hands.
“If Monaghan had even played for 10 minutes in the first half, if the gap had been a bit closer, maybe three or four points at half time then they could have been Ulster champions” said Lennon.
“Some people might argue different, but the goal for Monaghan heading out every year is to win an Ulster Championship. Maybe the goals need to be set bigger.
“Up in Tyrone, yes I’m sure their first goal is to win an Ulster Championship but they have that (an All-Ireland) in the back of their heads as well.
“It just shows you that there isn’t much between these teams, even Monaghan and Armagh there was only a kick of the ball between them.
“Monaghan shouldn’t feel inferior to any of those sides. Monaghan have a young team too so you’d be hoping next year and the following year they’ll be pushing on.”
Given Dublin’s previous dominance of the All-Ireland series – the county winning seven of the last nine titles – every Division One side will be boosted by Tyrone’s success. The fact that Dublin were not in the final will also add a layer of belief that their cloak of invincibility has a few buttons undone.
Lennon believes that Monaghan should feel entitled to share in such optimism.
“They have been Division One the last seven years and will be next year too,” he said.
“They’re up there with the big boys this last number of years and have been doing well.
“However, as every team knows, a lot of things have to go right to be successful. You have to keep your main men fit.
“Jack McCarron has been injured there for a while so you haven’t always had him, you haven’t had him and ‘Mansy’ (Conor McManus) and Kieran Hughes all out together too often. You need those boys playing on the field at the one time.
“I know some of them are getting older but Jesus, you’d love to see the day when they’re all out together and it all clicks on the one day in a big match.”
Séamus McEnaney will return for a third season as Monaghan boss after their run to the Ulster final. Coach David McCague, former Kerry assistant boss Donie Buckley and ex-Tyrone strength and conditioning coach Jonny Davis are also back on board.
Buckley was rumoured to be on a potential Kerry management ticket featuring Stephen Stack, Seamus Moynihan, Dara Ó Cinnéide, Mickey Ned O’Sullivan and Joe O’Connor. With Jack O’Connor appointed in the Kingdom, it seems that Buckley will remain with Monaghan for the time being.