McManus says International Rules is in a good place
By John Harrington
Monaghan footballer Conor McManus says the EirGrid International Rules concept is a good place after a highly competitive tour to Australia this year.
It was the first series in four years to revert to an aggregate points format over two tests, and the Australians emerged triumphant on a scoreline of 116 to 102 after two ferociously contested matches.
And McManus, who was announced yesterday as the EirGrid International Rules Player of the Series, believes the competitive nature of the action has put the competition on a good footing going forward.
“It definitely is in a good place,” said McManus. “Of all the games that I've played with Ireland in terms of the series and things like that, this is the one that has gotten the best response.
“It was on at five or six in the morning for the first test and then eight or nine in the morning for the second test and anybody I've been speaking to, they would have watched it or seen highlights.
“And they all said that they thoroughly enjoyed the series and thought it was good to watch, which is great. That's what we want when we're showcasing our game Down Under.
“It was a tough game and the Australians really brought their steel to it and that's what you want because our lads responded in kind. It was enjoyable and I think the game is in a good place at the minute.”
McManus kicked a highly impressive 40 points over the course of both tests to confirm his status as one of the greatest ever players in the history of the International Rules Series.
But his over-riding feeling afterwards was that Ireland had let a huge opportunity slip by not beating the Australians.
“I felt it got away from us probably in the first test,” he said. “We had ourselves in a good position in the first test and we ended up losing it by 10 points.
“We gave away a bad goal when we had got ourselves back into contention in the fourth quarter. A high ball dropped in and it just happened to bounce the wrong way, there was no-one at fault as such, it was just one of those things.
“That pushed it out to 10 points and probably put us under a week bit of pressure coming into the second test.
“We got it back in the second test and were 13 points ahead, but you were never going to run away with the game against the Australians, they were always going to have their purple patch, and put us under pressure in the last quarter.
“The fact that we had to go and chase the game then when the Australians got a couple of scores, we probably left ourselves a week bit bare at the back and they picked us off for a few scores.
“Yeah, it's disappointing. Because when you're down and you go through the amount of effort that lads have gone through in terms of training and things like that, you want to win the series and that's the bottom line.”
McManus has since switched his focus to getting himself in the best shape possible for the 2018 season with Monaghan.
He admits the challenge of playing Tyrone in the first round of the Ulster Championship is a daunting one, but is hopeful that Monaghan will be competitive in all competitions if the younger players in the panel that have emerged over the past couple of years can kick on.
“That's always your hope,” he said. “We've had a few lads there that have come through from the U-21s and a few of them have picked up knocks and injuries over the years.
“You'd be hopeful that those lads will come in and get a good run at it and kick on and really fight for their place in the team. If we have that then we'll be in a good position.”