By Shaun Casey
CONOR McManus can still play a pivotal role for Monaghan this season, even if it’s only from the bench, suggests his Clontibret clubmate Dessie Mone.
Mone spent many years battling alongside McManus in the blue and white of Monaghan, winning Ulster titles in 2013 and 2015. Mone also insists that Vinny Corey, another Clontibret clubman, wouldn’t entertain the notion of McManus hanging up the boots.
“I think he’d no choice with Vinny being the manager,” laughed Mone. “He was asking me, and I told him he couldn’t walk away on his clubmate. He’s coming on and he seems to be enjoying it, the same with Darren Hughes, the two boys are enjoying their football.
“Conor always enjoys his football, but you can see that he doesn’t have to play every league match and I suppose the last few years Monaghan have been trying to stay up and maybe you had to play him.
“But now other players are getting the scores and ‘Mansy’ is coming on and that’s going to leave him fresh for the championship. The championship is a different animal this year with the provincials and then with the new championship format as well.
“There’s a lot of interest in the league but there’s a lot of football going to be played in the championship and you need to find players that can adapt quickly, and I think the squad is going to be massive for the championship this year.”
Monaghan sit in one of the two relegation spots, although two back-to-back victories over Donegal and Roscommon bolstered their hopes of remaining in the division.
McManus, a three-time All-Star winner, has appeared as an impact sub in Monaghan’s last three games, but Mone believes the competitor inside him means he won’t be happy with just making second half cameos.
“Be it ‘Mansy’ or any player, everybody wants to start and that will make training more competitive. Every player will be chomping at the bit to get inside that first 15. You always want to start, definitely when it comes towards the end of the league.
“That’s when you want to be hitting the ground running and he’s going to be no different. He’s an elite athlete and a top player and he wants to play.”
Mone, who this weekend will complete acharity skydive. hopes the Farney men will have enough to remain in the top tier for a tenth straight season and they face difficult tests against Tyrone and Mayo in the coming weeks. But he does believe they have a forward line that could guide them to safety.
“The older players are coming back in the likes of Darren and ‘Mansy’, Fintan Kelly came back there as well, Jack McCarron is starting matches along with the likes of Thomas McPhillips, Karl Gallagher, that blend, they’re starting to mix.
“This last couple of years there’s new players in and out and thankfully this year you have Stephen O’Hanlon coming back, he’s been consistent for Monaghan. They have very good forwards and it’s making other teams think.”