Tailored approach suits Conor McManus
By John Harrington
Now aged 33 and in his 14th season of inter-county football, Conor McManus is at the stage of his career when his approach to training must be more carefully tailored.
Recovery is now a key consideration when it comes to getting his body in tip-top shape and sometimes less is more.
“Yeah, I suppose it's just the timing of things is a big part of it and you know when you get a two-week break, for example, you wouldn't be going flat out for the two weeks,” says the Monaghan sharp-shooter.
“You'd maybe take a training session or two to recover from the previous two week's games or whatever the case is and focus on a wee bit of rehab or a few bits and pieces that you need to tidy up yourself so that come this week you're fresh and ready to rock again.
“It's just being smarter and working along with the physios and obviously have an understanding with the management that they know what's best for each individual and that's probably a big part of what has changed over the years is that 10 or 12 or 14 years ago when I started it was just everybody in and everybody trained and one size fits all whereas now the whole management team and the physios and trainers and everything, they're working on a more individual basis and what each individual needs going forward.”
It makes perfect sense, but you still need a manager self-secure enough to give the more experienced players in the panel the lee-way to sometimes do their own individual work rather than train at full throttle with the rest of the team.
Fortunately for McManus, they don’t come more self-secure than Monaghan manager Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney.
“Yeah and I suppose, obviously, Banty, knowing him this last number of years he brings that to the table and at the end of the day what everybody wants is the best out of each individual and if the best thing is to rest one fella for a night or put another fella out onto the field for a tough session they will do that but they'll do it at the right times,” says McManus.
McEnaney has made a positive impression on all the Monaghan players since taking charge of the team ten years after his first stint in the job ended.
One of the most important talents a manager can have is the nous to delegate to experts in their field, and he has done that by appointing highly regarded coaches like Peter Donnelly, Conor Laverty, and David McCague.
“He has, yeah, and I suppose that was the thinking at the end of last year with the set-up we had last year and the previous seven years and you were thinking where will this go and what will happen now?
“Banty has come in and brought a really good backroom team with him and they've been brilliant so far. We couldn't have asked for anymore.
“Things are going reasonably well so far but it's early days. It's only February or March now. It's early days, there's a lot of football to be played yet.”
The acquisition of Peter Donnelly in particular was a real coup for Monaghan football.
He was Tyrone’s S&C coach up until last year and it was rare for a Tyrone footballer to do an interview with hailing Donnelly’s positive influence on the team.
Tyrone’s loss has been Monaghan’s gain, with Donnelly now building on the very solid foundations put in place by his predecessor Ryan Porter.
“I suppose it's not just specific to S&C that Pete's role is,” says McManus. “He has a holistic approach to the whole thing be it S&C, on the pitch, coaching, the whole lot. He's involved in all of that. It's not just specific to S&C. To be fair, we had Ryan Porter there for six or seven years as an S&C and he was excellent.
"A lot of what we are doing now under Pete was similar to what we had been doing before.
“Pete is not just S&C, he's involved in the whole package. He's bringing his own thoughts and ideas to that.”
Monaghan go into Sunday’s match against Kerry in need of a pick-me-up after a very disappointing defeat to Donegal last time out.
It was their second loss of the campaign but their first really poor performance.
“Up to that, whatevever about results, performances had been reasonably steady and you were happy enough with a lot of elements of it,” says McManus. “There were more positives than negatives in most of the games.
“But, then, obviously, the last day out was a non-event on our behalves. We didn't show up or perform at all. That's something we'll certainly be focusing on for the remainder of the week and coming into Sunday."
Kerry have traditionally found trips to League trips Monaghan to be tricky ties, but it's hard to know what to expect from this match.
It's been a topsy-turvy Division 1 campaign so far with no shortage of drama, and we'll probably get more of the same in Inniskeen on Sunday.
“Yeah, it's been a funny League," says McManus. "All the teams are together and ourselves in the middle of it.
“It's been as competitive a League in Division 1 for as long as I can remember whereby teams are taking points off each other and it's going to make for a very tight league.
“With two games to go there's a possibility of getting into a League Final and a possibility of getting relegated so it's a funny one.
“There's a number of teams in the same boat. Yeah, it's definitely been a funny League, but it's enjoyable.
“Inniskeen this Sunday, I suppose it's a tough game. Any day you play Kerry is tough. We've played them a number of times over the years, they've beaten us, we've beaten them and it's two points up for grabs in the league.
“Kerry are probably looking towards a League final, we're looking to just get points on the board to make sure there's no trouble at the back end of it so it'll bring its own challenges and I'm sure it'll be a tough game.”