By Shaun Casey
MONAGHAN sharpshooter Conor McManus has committed to another season of inter-county action but is unlikely to see any game time in the upcoming McKenna Cup.
The Farney County are the reigning holders of the trophy and won the competition last year, for the first time since 2003, without their main forward.
Now under the new management of Farney legend Vinny Corey, who has replaced Seamus McEnaney in the hotseat, Monaghan will be targeting another big year.
Pre-season has changed for McManus since the Clontibret attacking ace first came onto the scene back in 2007.
The long, hard slog has transformed into more bike and gym-based work and is all about getting “the body right” for the year ahead.
“We’ll go again and see where it takes us. If the body’s up for it, I just have to get a bit of work done over the wintertime and get the body right, but we’ll get another rattle anyway,” said the three-time All-Star.
“Pre-season has changed, it’s not the slog anymore, you just have to pick your battles and just find alternatives ways to getting a bit of conditioning into the legs.
“I’m doing that and doing as much as I can off the pitch at the minute just to get ready and I’ll hopefully get on the grass in the new year and see what the body’s like then.
“It’s bike work and just getting a wee bit of gym work at the minute, a bit of work done on the hip and that. It’s just seeing how much you can get done over the next number of weeks and then gradually build it back up onto the field.
“There’s a lot of football to be played with the various competitions. You obviously have the McKenna Cup, you’ve the National League, you’ve the Ulster Championship and you have the All-Ireland series.
“There’s a lot of football to be played between now and the end of the year so it’s just trying to get the body right for all that.”
For the McKenna Cup, Monaghan have been drawn into the same group as Down and Division One rivals Donegal. But McManus isn’t expecting to see much game time until the National League.
“I don’t know, I’ll have to speak to Vinny and see what the plan is,” added the 35-year-old, who is entering his 16th season in the blue and white.
“I probably don’t have enough done to be involved in the McKenna Cup at the minute, so we’ll just have to see what unfolds over the next couple of weeks.
“I’d say it’s more than likely the National League more so than the McKenna Cup.
“It’s difficult, you have Donegal and Down. But teams are just looking to get minutes into lads, obviously every team and panel has new faces in so it’s a about getting them into the swing of things, get minutes under the belts and get prepared for the league.”