Conor McManus is still aiming high
By Cian O'Connell
"We lost an Ulster semi-final and an All-Ireland semi-final so the year ends in disappointment because we didn't win the Championship," is Conor McManus' assessment of Monaghan's year.
"That's the way I'd look at it. It's the same for every other county out there bar Dublin. From the point of view of not winning the All-Ireland, we came up short."
Considering that Monaghan hadn't reached the penultimate stage since 1988 and the development in the past decade, especially, that is a significant statement when reflecting on the campaign.
"Yeah, but it's relative to where you're at, you're always looking at improving and we have been over the years," McManus says. "Ten years ago we'd never have said that alright, that wasn't the level we were at at that stage. So it's relative to where you're at and where you're aiming to be.
"It's great that Monaghan are talking and thinking like that now and we're in that overall conversation when people are talking about All-Irelands. You always want more of that. Unfortunately for everyone else Dublin have been so successful and if you talk to anyone they'll you they really want a fifth one in a row now."
In the days surrounding the September showpiece involving Tyrone and Monaghan McManus did wonder about what might have happened had they defeated Mickey Harte's charges.
"Yeah, well around the time of the final and for a week or two after the final those thoughts would cross your mind," McManus states. You'd definitely have been relishing a challenge like that, to have a cut at the final day. But at this stage there's nothing really to be gained from looking back and thinking like that.
"You just park it and move on, try and take the memory of wanting to be there into next year. I don't think anything else really benefits you or the team."
McManus is hopeful that Monaghan can deliver in the Championship by securing Ulster glory in 2019. "It's still the most straightforward way of getting to the Super 8s," McManus states.
"And obviously if you can get there with silverware then that's the ideal scenario. It's a shortcut to the Super 8s. If you'd asked us this year would we have rather won Ulster or just got to the Super 8s as we did, there's no doubt we'd have chosen to be there as Ulster champions. It's like two separate seasons in a way so you try to do as well in Ulster first of all."
A first round opener against neighbours Cavan promises to be interesting. "I'm not on the border, we're actually closer to Armagh, but if you ask any of the lads up the other end of the county, to the south-east, Carrickmacross and Magheracloone, Shercock, Kingscourt, they'd tell you the rivalry is quite strong alright," McManus remarks.
"Monaghan-Cavan games are always fairly spicy. Growing up I remember it was something that people would always get excited about in Monaghan." That hasn't changed.
Sky Sports Pundit, Ollie Canning, Cork star Conor Lehane and two time All Star award winner, Conor McManus attended the GAA Youth Forum. This is the second year of a five year grassroots partnership which has seen Sky Sports extend its support beyond the screen and invest €3million directly into GAA grassroots. As well as partnering with the GAA in support of today’s Youth Forum, Sky Sports will also continue to grow the game through its involvement with the GAA Super Games Centres countrywide, an initiative which encourages more kids to participate and get involved in Gaelic Games as well as The GAA Games Development Conference (January 2019).