Restart review: Rory Beggan

By Niall McCoy

ANOTHER year, another GAA season where goalkeepers are front and centre of the football news cycle.

Ever since Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton revolutionised the position, the no.1 jersey has become something that young players aspire to rather than a position that was often looked down on, outside of elite level anyway.

From Cluxton not showing this year, Rory Beggan tackling Galway goalkeeper Conor Gleeson while pushing into full-forward, Charlie Smyth’s fly-keeper role with the Down u-20s and Niall Morgan’s storming finish to the season as Tyrone claimed Sam Maguire for a fourth time, there has been plenty to dissect.

But what about Beggan’s bread and butter, his kick-outs?

Monaghan played three games in this year’s Ulster Championship and were very unlucky not to rescue a replay against eventual All-Ireland champions Tyrone in the provincial decider.

Gaelic Life has analysed the Scotstown man’s restarts over those three games and how they have been influenced by opposition tactics.


A routine day at the office for Monaghan as they swept aside Fermanagh at Clones.

Given that the outcome looked clear-cut from well out, the Scotstown net-minder didn’t have the same pressure on his shoulders as he would in later games.

Beggan’s first kick-out came inside the first minute and he couldn’t have asked for an easier start as four short options were available with the Erne county dropping off.

The first quarter followed an almost identical pattern. Beggan took five kicks and had various short kick-out options for all of them. They were as low risk as you could get with Fermanagh players retreating towards midfield leaving acres of space for the likes of Kieran Duffy and Conor Boyle to come short.

It was much the same after the water break with three Monaghan players generally being left inside the 45-metre line on their own and Beggan having the easiest of tasks of finding them.

In the 38th minute and with Fermanagh finally deciding to press the kick-out, Beggan was forced to think about a kick-out for the first time. The result? A beautifully sliced effort into the chest of Karl O’Connell who had dashed towards the sideline.

Two minutes later, Fermanagh left five players inside the 45-metre line and closed the gaps. Beggan hesitated and hesitated some more and finally referee Barry Cassidy cited him and threw the ball up.

The ensuing skirmish eventually led to a missed Sean Quigley free and from the resulting kick-out, Beggan launched an average effort to midfield and was fortunate to see the loose ball snagged by a white and blue jersey.

The press continued from there on, dropping in intensity as the half wore on, but after a shaky start to the second half, Beggan soon found his range.


A Covid-19 issue in the Armagh camp in the lead up to this classic Ulster semi-final probably helped Beggan to an extent. It certainly left one of his favoured kick-outs as an option even though Armagh had planned to shut it down.

Orchard goalkeeper Blaine Hughes had to miss out and in his place came youngster Shea Magill. It is believed that if able to play, Hughes would have stood in the half-back line for Monaghan’s restarts, cutting off some of Beggan’s long options. Fermanagh goalkeeper Sean McNally had come out at times to cut down space in the quarter-final.

With Hughes not present, Beggan was able to hit towards his preferred area on occasion – the Monaghan left half-forward zone. In the first half, the Oriel county grabbed 1-2 from kicks to that area, even if Darren Hughes’s goal came after a few phases of play.

Kieran McGeeney’s side were aggressive and forced Beggan to go long, and although they lost a few, Monaghan still won 16 restarts in those opening 35 minutes.

Armagh may have had a stunning second-half comeback, ultimately repelled, but Beggan’s kick-outs remained important after the break.

Again, he was forced to go long and again he did extremely well in a pressure-laden situation. One of the scores of the game came in the 43rd minute when a long and accurate restart was fetched by Stephen O’Hanlon. The ball was fed to Shane Carey who ran through the middle and was fouled, leaving Conor McManus with an easy score.


This game was a real Ulster final thriller with neutrals left enthralled as Beggan and Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan played almost as outfielders.

On the kick-out front, we saw something that is rare, a sustained breakdown of the Monaghan kick-out over a period of a few minutes.

The pressure was on from the off, with five red shirts inside the 45-metre line when Beggan stood over the tee for the first time. Even in that cauldron, he found a teammate.

In the 29th minute, Peter Harte, who won four Monaghan kick-outs in the first half alone, turned over Ryan Wylie on a restart leading to a Darren McCurry score.

Beggan tried to hit Duffy long on the restart but sent the ball over the Hogan Stand sideline.

Movement out the field continued to be stifled and Beggan’s next kick was broken down by Conn Kilpatrick to Harte. Three lost in-a-row.

In the second half the entire Oriel team sharpened up and more movement allowed Beggan to use the wide spaces of Croke Park well. It would not be enough, but it was much improved on what was another fine season from Beggan.

Maybe not his best but, then again, he has set ridiculously high standards.

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