Conor McCarthy satisfied with encouraging campaign
By Cian O'Connell
For much of the past decade Monaghan’s emergence as a serious force has been one of the most encouraging and uplifting stories in Gaelic Football.
Monaghan have achieved a level of consistency under Malachy O’Rourke and the hope that further bright days await still exists.
One of the chief reasons for that optimism is the emergence of talented performers such as Conor McCarthy, who provided several glimpses of his considerable ability throughout 2017.
A key figure for UCD, McCarthy contributed handsomely for Monaghan too with his three point cameo against Dublin in the All Ireland Quarter-Final a clear sign of his development.
“Absolutely on a personal level I thought I did really well this year,” McCarthy says about his campaign with UCD, Scotstown, and Monaghan.
“Obviously getting to the Quarter-Final was massive for us. It was disappointing to lose out in Ulster, but I thought we regrouped really well during the Qualifiers.
“To get to play in Croke Park in the Quarter-Final of the All Ireland was something really nice for me personally because I hadn't been at that stage before. Overall I was happy enough.”
The increasing depth of the Monaghan panel is a source of pride in Monaghan, who are keen to produce gritty Allianz League and Championship displays in the coming months.
“Absolutely, yeah, that is something, even with the Super 8s coming in this year, that is something that is going to be massive for us,” McCarthy admits.
“Strength in depth within our panel is crucial, I think you could see from the boys coming off the bench, boys who couldn't even get a start, they were coming on winning games.
“You definitely need that impact off the bench in the modern day game. Fellas are only lasting 50 and 60 minutes, credit to them they put everything out on the pitch for that 50 or 60 minutes, then it is up to the rest of the guys on the bench to finish off the game.”
Reaching the last eight of the Championship remains Monaghan’s ambition - with the new format every team craves to be involved at that stage.
“It definitely is, there is something exciting about it. I'm really looking forward to it now to be honest, game after game, week on week, it should be good now,” McCarthy acknowledges.
Having lost out in the Sigerson Cup final to St Mary’s Belfast, McCarthy is hopeful about UCD’s chances under John Divilly’s stewardship.
“I really enjoy the Sigerson competition, not only playing in it, but the friends you make from it aswell,” McCarthy adds.
“The longer the season goes on and obviously getting to the final makes your season longer, the better you get to know the players you are playing with and the better friends you become. That is a part of it.”
Divilly, an All Ireland winner with Galway in his own playing days, also captured a Sigerson with UCD back in 1996. “John is a great man, he is a good coach, he knows his stuff,” McCarthy says. “He brought an identity to the team that maybe UCD hadn't in the past and he is reaping the rewards.
“He definitely brings his personality out in the team. People really get that vibe off him and they bounce off him. When we do play, we definitely have a bit of John Divilly about us put it like that.” Scotstown, UCD, and Monaghan are similarly grateful to have a bit of Conor McCarthy about them too.