By Michael McMullan
MONAGHAN minors revelled in the freedom granted by Mayo’s style of play in Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final suggests manager Dermot Malone.
The Farney side recovered from an early Mayo goal to run out deserving winners, setting up a semi-final clash with Kerry as they aim to book a first final spot since in 1939.
Central to Monaghan’s impressive win was trio of Tommy Mallen, Max McGinnity and Matthew Finn who shot a combined 0-12 of their tally.
Another key factor was their tally of 1-6 without reply before half-time after Conor Jones dispatched a fine individual goal to the net.
“It is something we are not really used to,” Malone said of how Mayo setup. “When you are playing against a lot of teams in Ulster, you are playing against a lot more packed defences.
“In fairness to Mayo, they left three or four men up at times, it made for a much more open and free flowing game.
“We are lucky in Monaghan; it’s not too often we have it but we have a bit of pace on our team.”
It’s Malone’s first season as manager and comes after calling time on a senior inter-county career that yielded Ulster medals in 2013 and 2015 in an era when Monaghan were regularly challenging.
“It is satisfying getting a win,” said a content Malone on Saturday in Carrick on Shannon.
“Something I have definitely felt going from being a player to becoming a manager…when you lose, you feel so much more responsible and you do take it worse.
“That defeat (to Derry)…I have lost Ulster finals as a player and manager and it is worse as a manager. You feel responsible when you lose and there is a sense of satisfaction when you win.
“It is collective effort; the players are really good and very coachable. My management team are really good.
“If you’d told me at the start of the year, we’d be in the last four I’d have said I will take it.”