Saturday 25 November 2017

'Camp' can ignite Farney fire for the Dubs

McNulty's message to Monaghan: 'Delete last weekend. Move on. Forget the post-mortem'

Bernard Brogan, Dublin, in action against Ryan Wylie, Monaghan, Allianz Football League, Division 1, Round 7, Monaghan v Dublin. St Tiernachs Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan
Bernard Brogan, Dublin, in action against Ryan Wylie, Monaghan, Allianz Football League, Division 1, Round 7, Monaghan v Dublin. St Tiernachs Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan

YOU'VE just been tanked, by 11 points, in your own back yard. Now you must immediately face the same rival in their favourite stomping ground.

So, what's the mindset this week - burning motivation or demoralisation?

That's a question only the footballers of Monaghan can honestly answer, as they continue their five-day training camp in Portugal.

Malachy O'Rourke's men will fly home from this pre-planned trip late on Friday, ahead of Sunday's Allianz Football League semi-final rematch with Dublin in Croke Park (4.0).

Justin McNulty - the Armagh All-Ireland winner, former Laois manager and now SDLP Westminster candidate - views Monaghan's training camp as the "absolutely ideal" antidote to last weekend in Clones.

"They'll be over there having fun. They'll not be even thinking about the Sunday past," he told The Herald.

"They'll be focussing on what they can control, which are the games coming up.

"They'll be focussing on how they can improve as a team - tactically, technically, mentally, physically.

"They'll be so much in a better place after coming home … they'll be raring for battle and it will certainly not be a walkover game, I would suspect."

It's a moot point whether their foreign physical exertions will help or hinder short-term league aspirations: after all, Farney fans will recall just how flat Donegal were, 'fresh' from a similar camp, for last year's Division Two final against Monaghan.

However, a more pertinent question concerns Monaghan morale. Last Sunday, in front of expectant fans who even cheered them off after the warm-up, the 2013 Ulster champions were routed by 1-22 to 1-11.

The play-off gods decreed that Monaghan still qualified for the last-four - against, of all teams, Dublin.

"If we had our choice, maybe after playing Dublin today, we would have preferred somebody else," admitted O'Rourke afterwards.

McNulty may have recently turned his antennae towards politics, but he remains linked to the Motiv8 company set up by his brother Enda, a fellow All-Ireland winning defender with the Orchard County (2002) who has established a big reputation in the field of performance excellence.

Ergo, he knows plenty about psychology as a tool to maximise potential. Which brings us back to last weekend.

"Obviously Monaghan are coming in this week a little bit downtrodden," he says.

"However, the defeat last Sunday - and Monaghan need to come to terms with this fairly quickly - is totally inconsequential. Of no significance. So, essentially, delete last weekend. Move on from it.

"No need for a post-mortem - they haven't time for a post-mortem, they've got to get themselves completely turned around in a very short time. And I think that's ideal.


"We can't spend too much time mulling over what's gone and what's out of our control."

The flip-side of this conundrum: how will Dublin view opponents whom they have just overwhelmed by a cumulative 28 points, if you throw in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final?

"In terms of what Dublin achieved last weekend - 1-17 from play is phenomenal.

"That's devastating attack, obviously the type of football that Jim Gavin is trying to deliver always," McNulty points out.

"They've got an equally challenging task, if you like, in getting their mindset right. Given that they know they had a walkover performance - with six minutes left it was 1-18 to 0-6.

"So how do they get themselves into a mode where they're prepared for a tough battle? Because if Monaghan are any sort of a team at all, they're going to come out all guns blazing ... and Dublin need to be wary of that, because Dublin are in danger of being in complacency mode. Unless they tackle that themselves, they could be caught very easily.

"There's a simple solution for complacency, and it's to prepare for this game as though it's going to be the toughest game you'll ever play in your life. And then complacency is not a factor," he concludes.


TICKET PRICING FOR NFL SEMI-FINALS - Buy in advance: Adults €15 stand and terrace; Juveniles €5 stand. Buy on the day: Adults €20 stand and terrace; Juveniles €5 stand.

Tickets are available from www.dublingaa.ie/tickets, Centra and Supervalu outlets and the GAA Ticket Office, Dorset Street.

Parnell Pass holders can purchase their tickets until this Friday in the GAA Ticket Office, Dorset Street (opening hours 10am-5pm).


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