By Barry O’Donnell
MAX McGinnity’s wand of a left foot kept Monaghan’s provincial dreams alive in the closing embers of last weekend’s classic Ulster Minor semi-final with Tyrone, but he is concious that more magic will be required from the Farney if they are to annex the trophy.
The Castleblayney teenager struck over eight frees, including a stunning equaliser with the last kick of the game in extra-time, from out near the left touchline, as his side went on to dash the hopes of defending champions Tyrone after a penalty shootout in Roslea.
The Oriel boys have little time to savour that success, with Derry next up in the Ulster decider this Sunday evening at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, but McGinnity insists that they will embrace that challenge too, having already conquered the previously rampant Red Hands.
“It will be a great occasion to play in an Ulster Final. We know we will have to step it up a notch to compete with Derry and the quality they have, the likes of (Johnny) McGuckian and (Fionn) McEldowney and those boys. They have top top footballers and gave us a bit of a trimming in Owenbeg.
“So it won’t come easy next Sunday we know that, it will be harder if anything than the semi-final.
”But we will be confident. Tyrone were going for three minor titles in a row so to beat them will do a lot for our belief but we realise it is going to take another phenomenal effort against Derry and another big game.”
Monaghan appeared down and out on three or four different occasions against Tyrone, as they conceded what seemed crucial goals at different junctures, but in the end they prevailed 6-5 after those dreaded spot-kicks, with the match having ended 2-9 to 4-13 following eighty plus minutes of pulsating action.
McGinnity acknowledged that the match had been something special to feature in.
“It was a topsy-turvy game. We played in patches to be honest but we were just delighted to get over the line.
“Fair play to Tyrone they are an excellent team. At the end it took penalties to decide it which shows there was nothing between the teams.
“The intensity was top class from both sets of players. We knew before the game that we needed to come in and work hard. Tyrone are an incredible group of footballers.
“After going 1-2 to no score down after probably just two or three minutes of the game we responded very well and we had to do that a few times during the match.”
The pitch at Roslea resembled a ‘Mash’ camp in the closing stages with players from both teams seizing up with cramp and other knocks, as a stamina sapping afternoon took its toll. Max is aware though that his team have little time to recuperate.
“It was a phenomenal result for us but we don’t have long to savour it with Derry next up in the final.
“We will have a couple of ice baths and loosening up sessions and just go at it again next Sunday. We will hopefully be ready to go for another extremely tough game.
“ We played Derry up in Owenbeg and know that they are an incredible team but we will be confident in our own ability.
“We have just beaten a top quality Tyrone team. We had a boxer’s chance in that one and it will be the same in the final.”