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Tuesday 14 August 2018

O'Connell: Anyone can win championship

KARL O'CONNELL
KARL O'CONNELL

Mugged in broad daylight in Clones by David Clifford a couple of weeks back, Monaghan's path to the All-Ireland semi-final wasn't easy to make out just then.

They had Kerry beaten twice over almost before Clifford conjured his miracle and Monaghan's glass ceiling seemed like remaining unshattered for another summer.

"You've got to understand, this is a three-game process, it's a league format," reasons Karl O'Connell now.

While most were mourning Monaghan's inability to see that game out and the likely unspooling of their year in Salthill, O'Connell and his team-mates eyed opportunity.

"We got the ideal start all right but even if you lose a game, you still have plenty of chances to get through so it was straight to the drawing board like any other game," he points out.

"Look at the mistakes that we made and then we move on from there, that's the way it's been all year so no disappointment whatsoever.

"It was one game and we knew we had another game after it."

Topping their group then, was no mean feat.

Becoming just the second team to beat Galway was second in achievement only to the manner in which they achieved it.

Great

"It's a great win," O'Connell admits, one of the chief protagonists of Monaghan's upward trajectory this summer.

"Galway have been a credit this year, they have stuck to their guns and their system and it has worked fair well for them.

"It could have went either way but I thought we just got a good stranglehold on the game and kept a good grip on it."

Despite similarities to their 2013 and '15 seasons, when Tyrone spoiled their Ulster title winning parties to beat them in both All-Ireland quarter-finals, O'Connell points out that Monaghan's 30-year absence from the All-Ireland semi-finals is now, "a thing of the past".

"We had objectives at the start of the year," he elaborates, "we got them and we're at a stage now where we're not even thinking about that.

"The last four teams will feel like they can win the whole thing, and that's true.

"Anyone can win this championship.

"We knew within the squad that the Fermanagh game was a mishap," he says of Monaghan's surprising Ulster loss, a result that sent them through the back door route to this year's inaugural 'Super 8s'.

"That happens, you win games, you lose games, it's all about bouncing back.

"We got back to where we wanted to be, very unfortunate not to get to an Ulster final but Ulster finals are long gone and over, it's the business end of the year and we're very happy to be here.

"Another Ulster battle, another top team," he insists.

"There's a lot of football still to be played."

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