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Tuesday 11 December 2018

Monaghan knew they had to be 'ruthless' - McAnespie

Monaghan star Ryan McAnespie. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Monaghan star Ryan McAnespie. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Ryan McAnespie has revealed the secret to Monaghan's success in the 'Super 8s' - they had to be more "ruthless".

No one more so, you may argue, than Monaghan's workaholic No 10.

In seven previous SFC starts this summer, McAnespie had totalled 0-5, placing himself behind a raiding wing-back (Karl O'Connell) and a free-taking 'keeper (Rory Beggan) in the Monaghan scoring charts.

But on Saturday in Salthill, he delivered a brilliant 0-4 from play to leapfrog Galway and set up an All-Ireland semi-final date with Tyrone this Sunday.

"It's probably one of the better games I've played … but it doesn't matter who's on the scoresheet so long as they're getting the scores. That was all that mattered," he insisted.

"We sort of knew if we got the performance right, we'd put it up to any team at the minute," he expanded.

"We had Kerry on the ropes and sort of let go and they got the draw out of it. We knew then we had to come here and we had to be more ruthless, take our shots and take our chances."

Delirious

Cue a double-scores victory and a delirious pitch invasion that invoked memories of a different era, maybe even the 1980s when Monaghan last made it to a semi-final.

"Ah yeah, 30 years. Even the whole championship the support has been crazy," McAnespie enthused. "A couple of matches going away and we had more support than the home counties. They've been fantastic. And especially when you're out there playing, when we score or make a block, you can hear them. It just drives the whole team on.

"They'll always stand by us, whether we win or lose, and that's what you need, that you're not being left out, hung and dry, if you do have a weak game.

"They're always there backing you up. So it definitely drives the team on and hopefully come next week they'll be there in numbers again and we'll hopefully do them proud."

As Monaghan players lingered with supporters on the Pearse Stadium pitch, over half-an-hour after the final whistle, it was impossible to miss the connection between both.

"It's such a small county," McAnespie explained, "and you probably know half the people in the county and you're probably friends with them all.

"Just very proud now. Just very close to all the supporters. It's like one big family ... that's what it feels like anyway."

Those fans stuck with the team through the adversity of their shock, sucker-punch defeat to Fermanagh in Ulster, and all the way down to Dungarvan for their opening qualifier against Waterford.

Momentum

It's been a long way from there to here. While "happy" with a Super 8s return of two wins and a draw, McAnespie warned: "It's nice to be going in with momentum but it's going to be a tough challenge (against Tyrone)."

He added: "Fermanagh was probably one of our weaker performances.

"We've learned a lot from that game and we've grown from it. We'll just take every game as it comes. Again next week - we can't look any further than the semi-final. That's our last game, in our eyes. So we'll just have to get another performance and hopefully that does enough to get us over the line."

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