Rory Beggan (31)
MONAGHAN’S victory over Tyrone was a high-scoring affair (2-17 to 1-18) so it says something about Rory Beggan that he was one of the leading contenders for the man of the match award.
Not only were his kick-outs characteristically on point, but he played his ‘fly ‘keeper’ role to perfection when Monaghan came charging back into the game in the second half.
Perhaps his stand-out contribution was a perfectly played diagonal pass to find Karl Galagher who fed Stephen O’Hanlon, who rattled the net seconds later. Brian McGuigan would’ve been proud of it.
But anyway, Beggan is a great bit of stuff and he could be around for a while yet.
Shane Carey (31)
SHANE Carey made a positive impact when sprung from the bench against Tyrone, landing a second-half point as the game became increasingly frantic.
Carey, who captained his native Scotstown to the Monaghan title two years ago, has been on the inter-county scene since 2015, making his championship debut that year against Cavan.
He has been an ever-present on the panel ever since, alternating between wing-back and half-forward, and he’s lined out in some massive games including Monaghan’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tyrone in 2018.
Kieran Duffy (32)
THE Farney captain this year, Duffy is a steady and reliable full-back who has been lining out for the team for more than a decade.
In a recent interview with Gaelic Life, he recalled his Ulster Championship debut – he was given the run-around by Tyrone legend Stephen O’Neill – but he has held his own more often than not and played an integral role in their Ulster Championship successes in 2013 and 2015.
Fintan Kelly (32)
BACK in 2021, Fintan Kelly said being written off as an ageing force ‘doesn’t bother us’ and he’s still plugging away at the age of32.
It’s been a few years since he was a regular starter, and it seems like he’s lined out in nearly every position in his lengthy inter-county career from corner-back to midfield to full-forward.
He found the net in successive championship games as a corner-back in 2017 and a year later he was wearing the number 14 jersey as Monaghan made it all the way to the last four of the All-Ireland series, losing out by a point to the Red Hands.
Kieran Hughes (33)
KIERAN Hughes had to content himself with a substitute’s role against Tyrone last week, coming on in the second half for his injured brother Darren.
But he’s given great service to the Farney down the years and in his pomp was one of the most swashbuckling players in the province.
He’s won a bagful of Senior Championship medals with Scotstown and has had many great days out in the county jersey.
He’s also a laidback, affable sort who has freely admitted in interviews with Gaelic Life that the McKenna Cup isn’t his cup of tea.
Conor McManus (35)
WHAT a man – there aren’t many inter-county footballers in their mid-30s these days and Monaghan legend Conor McManus is still leading from the front despite being plagued by serious hip problems in recent years.
McManus sat out most of this year’s league campaign but returned to play a starring role on the last day against Mayo, scoring 1-7 including a late penalty that made doubly sure of victory. He was also crucial to their efforts against Tyrone, scoring nine points, including a brilliant late free from distance.
He won the official man of the match award and there’s no doubting his influence on the team.
Karl O’Connell (35)
A RELATIVE late-comer to the scene, O’Connell made his Monaghan debut as a 24-year-old back in 2012.
He made his name as one of the fastest players in the game (he was a keen athlete in his youth), and he showed he still has searing pace in his locker when sprung from the bench against Tyrone, playing a big part in their second-half comeback as Monaghan’s running game caused the Red Hands no end of problems.
O’Connell is another veteran who has played his part in some of Monaghan’s biggest days.
Darren Hughes (36)
YOU’D be forgiven for thinking that Conor McManus is the oldest member on the Monaghan panel (every time his name is mentioned in commentary, reference is made to his age) but it’s actually Darren Hughes who is the eldest statesman on the team.
The long-standing Monaghan midfielder has had one hell of a career and is still an automatic starter. He made his championship debut all the way back in 2007 and admitted back in January that this is the first year he’s entertained hanging up the boots for the final time.